West Valley College
14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070 • Phone (408) 867-2200

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): General Information

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The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students."

 

FERPA requires that a student's education records be:

 

1. Disclosed only to persons who meet the strict definition of a school official who has a legitimate educational interest in the records (or others explicitly granted access under the law).

2. Made available within 15 working days of the student's written request for inspection and review.

Definition of a school official:

 

1. A school official is defined as person employed by the college or college district in an administrative, supervisory, research, or support staff position.

2. An official committee member (i.e., Matriculation Committee, Basic Skills Committee) or another individual assigned by an administrator or supervisor to assist in an official task.

3. An outside contractor (i.e., health or medical professional, district counsel/attorney, auditor) acting as an agent for the college.

A College official has a legal right to know if a person defined as having a legitimate educational interest is:

 

1. Performing a task that is specified in his/her position or related to student discipline.

2. Providing college services or benefits related to a student, or maintaining the safety and security on campus.

 

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Example of a legitimate educational interest: A counselor who needs to review a student's education records to determine what courses have been or need to be completed. This task is related to student academic advising. The counselor is authorized to view education records that are relevant to the task at hand.

 

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