As a general rule, under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), personally identifiable information may not be released from a student’s education records without his or her prior written consent. Exceptions to this rule are set out in the FERPA regulations and the FERPA policy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A few of those exceptions are listed below.
- The University will disclose personally identifiable information from a student’s education records to officials of another school or school system in which the student seeks or intends to enroll and to officials of another school or school system in which a currently-enrolled UNC-CH student is contemporaneously enrolled.
- If the University takes disciplinary action against a student for conduct that posed a significant risk to the safety or well-being of the student, other students, or members of the University community, the University may disclose information about that disciplinary action to officials of other schools who have a legitimate educational interest in the student’s behavior.
- If the University, pursuant to campus disciplinary procedures, finds that a student has committed a violation of the Code of Student Conduct that constitutes a crime of violence or a nonforcible sex offense, the University will, upon request, disclose the name of the student, the violation committed, and any disciplinary sanction imposed on the student.
- The University will release information from a student’s education records to other school officials, including teachers, officials and employees of UNC-CH, who have a legitimate educational interest in the information. A school official has a “legitimate educational interest:” if it is in the educational interest of the student in question for the official to have the information, or if it is necessary or desirable for the official to obtain the information in order to carry out his or her official duties or to implement the policies of the University of North Carolina.
- The University makes public certain information that has been designated as “directory information” unless the student has notified the Office of the University Registrar to restrict the release of this information. The University considers the following to be “directory information”: the student’s name; address (local and grade/billing addresses); student e-mail address; telephone listing (local and grade/billing telephone numbers); date and place of birth; county, state and/or United States territory from which the student entered the University; major field of study, class (freshman, senior, etc.); enrollment status (full-time, half-time, or part-time); Person ID Number (PID); anticipated graduation date; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; dates of attendance; degrees and awards received; and the most recent previous educational agency or institution attended by the student. Note that parent name, address, and telephone number are not directory information.
The University also publishes the campus directory annually, and some professional and graduate student groups publish directories of students in their departments or schools.
Students who wish have all directory information restricted may choose to request this restriction using the “Update Your Privacy Flag” function on Student Central or may request this restriction in writing through the Office of the University Registrar.
A “Request for Non-Disclosure of Information” form available in Suite 3100, SASB North, gives students certain options regarding the release of information on campus.
Section A allows the student to block release of directory information in the campus directory, in printed lists generated by the Office of the University Registrar, and at computer terminals all over campus. If a student chooses this option, he or she will not be able to receive any information about his or her records by telephone. Instead the student must come in person and show photo ID, or send a written request acknowledging that he or she has placed a restriction on his or her record but requires specific information.
To remove the restriction, the student must either:
- Come to Suite 3100, SASB North and complete a “Request for Removing Restrictions on Non-Disclosure of Information” form
- Send a written request to the Office of the University Registrar.
Section B on the form allows a student to retain an entry in the published campus directory but restricts how the information appears. The Office of the University Registrar will accept request forms at any time; however it cannot guarantee a proper listing in the Campus Directory unless it receives the request by the end of the Fall Registration period.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act also gives a student the right to inspect his or her education records and to request amendment of those records if they are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights. To inspect his or her education records, a student must file a written request with the individual who has custody of the records that the student wishes to inspect (University Registrar, Academic Dean, Department Chair, Director of University Housing, etc.). This request must be honored within 45 days after the records custodian receives it. To request amendment of his or her records, a student first discusses the matter informally with the records custodian, and if the custodian does not agree to amend the records, he or she will inform the student of applicable appeal rights. Students also have the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the University has not complied with FERPA.
Questions about FERPA should be addressed to the Assistant Provost and University Registrar. In addition, the complete University policy on FERPA can be found here:http://www.unc.edu/campus/policies/ferpa.pdf