Recent high-profile news stories have spotlighted a growing national problem of confidential student information accidentally being made public – incidences that, while technological in nature, are also violations of FERPA, a federal regulation enacted to protect the privacy of student records.
In this climate UAB is placing a renewed emphasis on FERPA compliance, said Provost Eli Capilouto and University Registrar Stella Cocoris. FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (amended in 1996), and is also known as the Buckley Amendment.
“Many UAB faculty and staff have access to student records in order to fulfill their job responsibilities,” said Capilouto. “As custodians of such data, we all must pay careful, continuous attention to the potential for violations through careless electronic mishaps, or a misunderstanding of or incomplete knowledge of FERPA rules.
“The institutional consequences of FERPA violations can be the withholding of federal funds, and the consequences to individuals can be even more serious,” he said. “All employees who have access to student education records must regularly review FERPA guidelines to protect their students, themselves, and the university.”
Cocoris said there are four UAB policies directly related to the access and use of student records, all of which can be accessed through www.uab.edu/ferpa:
• Electronic Data Processing Security Policy
• Grade Posting and Grade Distribution Policy
• Information Disclosure Policy
•Student Records Policy, especially Sections IV and IX
“All faculty and those staff who have access to student education records need to review the FERPA guidelines and test their knowledge of how FERPA governs their day-to-day decisions and actions,” Cocoris said. “Everyone can do this via the FERPA training course now available in WebCT Vista – it can be accessed at www.uab.edu/ferpacourse.”