Marymount California University is committed to the protection and confidentiality of student educational records, adhering closely to the guidelines established by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of education records, to establish the right of students to inspect and review their education records, and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate and misleading data through informal and formal hearings.
Obtaining consent from students
Once a student begins attending an institution of post-secondary education, all privacy rights move to that student (away from the parents). The general principle is that student education records are considered confidential and may not be released to third parties (including parents) without written consent of the student. Such things as progress in a course, deficiencies in a subject area, scores and grades on papers, exams, etc. are all examples of information that make up part of the student’s education record. This information is protected under FERPA and the parents may not have access unless the student has provided written authorization that specifically identifies what information may be released to the parent(s).
The public posting of grades either by student’s name, student identification number or social security number is a violation of FERPA even if the names are obscured. As a reminder, students can always see grades via the student portal.
Returning graded papers and assignments
Distributing graded work in a way that exposes the student’s identity or leaving personally identifiable graded papers unattended is no different from posting grades publicly. If the papers contain “personally identifiable” information, then leaving them unattended for anyone to see is a violation of FERPA. Other possible solutions for distributing grade information to students would be to leave graded papers with an assistant or secretary who would ask students for proper identification prior to distributing them, leave graded work in a sealed envelope with only the student’s name on it, or use a code name or number known only to the student and faculty member to identify the graded work. As a reminder, these are merely suggestions and not mandated by the Office of the Registrar.
Sending grades to students
Instructors can notify students of their final grades via the U.S. mail if the information is enclosed in an envelope. Notification of grades via a postcard violates a student’s privacy. Posting grades on a website that is open to public access or in a way that exposes individual grades to other class members is not acceptable. As a reminder, students can always see grades via the student portal.
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