Privacy Rights of Students in Education Records

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C. 1232g) and regulations adopted thereunder (34 C.F.R. 99) set out requirements designed to protect students’ privacy in their records maintained by the Unviersity. The statute and regulations govern access to certain student records maintained by the University and the release of such records. The law provides that the University must give students access to most records directly related to the student, and also must provide opportunity for a hearing to challenge the records if the student claims they are inaccurate, misleading or otherwise inappropriate. The right to a hearing under this law does not include any right to challenge the appropriateness of a grade determined by the instructor. The law generally requires the institution to receive a student’s written consent before releasing personally identifiable data about the student. The University has adopted a set of policies and procedures governing implementation of the statute and the regulations.

Copies of these policies and procedures may be obtained at the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs or at http://www-admn.csun.edu/vp/policies/750_stu_affairs/650-30.pdf.

Among the types of information included in the University statement of policies and procedures are: (1) the types of student records maintained and the information they contain; (2) the official responsible for maintaining each type of record; (3) the location of access lists indicating persons requesting or receiving information from the record; (4) policies for reviewing and expunging records; (5) student access rights to their records; (6) the procedures for challenging the content of student records; (7) the cost to be charged for reproducing copies of records; and (8) the right of the student to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. Department of Education has established an office and review board to investigate complaints and adjudicate violations. The designated office is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.

The University is authorized under the Act to release “directory information” concerning students. At CSUN, “directory information” includes the student’s name, address, telephone number, email address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, grade level, enrollment status (e.g., undergraduate or graduate, full-time or part-time), participation in official University activities and sports, weight and height of athletic team members, degrees, honors and awards received and most recent educational institution attended. For student employees, directory information also will include the Department where employed and employee status (e.g., graduate assistant, instructional student assistant, teaching associate). The above-designated information is subject to release by the University at any time unless the University has received prior written objection from the student specifying what information the student requests not be released. Written objections should be sent to the Office of Admissions and Records.

The University is authorized to provide access to student records to University officials and employees who have legitimate educational interests in such access. These persons have responsibilities in the University’s academic, administrative or service functions, and have reason for accessing student records associated with their University or other related academic responsibilities. Student records also may be disclosed to other persons or organizations under certain conditions (e.g., as part of accreditation or Program evaluation, in response to a court order or subpoena, in connection with financial aid or to other academic institutions to which the student is transferring).