Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Student walking to libraryUniversity of Detroit Mercy maintains the confidentiality of student records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 as amended. At Detroit Mercy, the University Registrar coordinates the inspection and review procedures for student records, which includes admissions, personal, academic and financial files as well as cooperative education and placement records.

No one outside the institution may have access to, nor will the institution disclose any information from, students' educational records without the written consent of the student, except: to personnel within the institution, to officials of other institutions in which the student seeks to enroll, to persons or organizations providing student financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order or subpoena; and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. Personnel within the institution shall include administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff; a person or company with whom the institution has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee or assisting personnel within the institution in performing a task. All these exceptions are permitted under the act.

Educational records or components thereof may be made available without the student's written consent to personnel within the University who are determined by the institution to have a legitimate educational interest. The University will maintain a record of all requests and disclosures of personally identifiable information except those made to University of Detroit Mercy officials. Legitimate recipients of all such records will be informed that they are not permitted to disclose the information to others.

Students may review their education records by making a written request to the Registrar or appropriate dean's office. Students may not inspect financial information submitted by their parents; confidential letters and recommendations associated with admissions, employment or job placement or honors to which they have waived their right of inspection or review; or educational records containing information about more than one student. The University is not required to permit students to inspect and review confidential letters and recommendations placed in their files prior to January 1, 1975.

The University may disclose the following categories of public or "directory" information for any purpose, at its discretion: student name, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of attendance, class, date and place of birth, major field of study, previous institutions attended, awards, honors (includes Dean's List), degrees conferred (including dates), photograph, past and present participation in officially recognized activities and sports, physical factors (e.g. weight and height of athletes).

Currently enrolled students may withhold disclosure of any such information under the Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. To withhold disclosure, written notification must be received by the University Registrar prior to the first Friday following final registration for each semester of period of study. Requests for non-disclosure will be honored by the institution until such time that the student requests that the non-disclosure be lifted.

The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their educational records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. The Registrar at University of Detroit Mercy has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student educational records.

Students wishing to review their educational records must make written requests to the Registrar listing the item or items of interest. A list of what educational records are kept where is available from the Registrar. Only records covered by the Act will be made available within forty-five (45) days of the request. Students may have copies made of their records with certain exceptions, (e.g., a copy of the academic record for which a financial hold exists, or a transcript of an original or source document which exists elsewhere).

These copies would be made at the student's expense at prevailing rates. Educational records do not include records of instructional, administrative, and educational personnel, which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual, records of a law enforcement unit, student health records, employment records or alumni records.

Students who believe that their educational records contain information, which is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the Registrar. If the decisions are in agreement with the student's request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and they will be informed by the Registrar of their right to a formal hearing. Students' requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Registrar, who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student's expense. The hearing panels to adjudicate such challenges will consist of the University Registrar, dean of Student Life, the dean (or their designee) from the college/school where the records are kept, if such are challenged, and two students appointed by the dean of Student Life through the Student Senate.

Decisions of the hearing panel will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, and will consist of written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing panels, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place within the educational record statements commenting on the information in the records, or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing panel. The statements will be placed in the educational record, maintained as part of the student's record, and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair, or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request in writing, assistance from the president of the University. Further, students who believe that their rights have been abridged, may file complaints with the Student Privacy Policy Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202 or 202-260-3887 concerning the alleged failures of University of Detroit Mercy to comply with the Act.

Diane M. Praet
Associate Vice President and University Registrar
FERPA Compliance Officer