Right to Privacy (FERPA)

The purpose of the Family Education and Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (the Buckley Amendment) is to protect the students with regards to the release and access of student records.

If you are a current student looking to update your FERPA record, please submit an updated form through MyThomas. If you have any questions, please reach out to Student Affairs (stuaff@thomas.edu).

Annual Notification

Students will be notified of their FERPA rights annually by publication in the Student Handbook.

Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the following definitions apply:

Student – any person who attends or has attended Thomas College.

Education Records – any record (in handwriting, print, electronic, tapes, films, or other medium) maintained by Thomas College or an agent of the College that is directly related to a student, except:

  1. A personal record kept by a staff member if it is kept in the sole possession of the maker of the record and is not accessible or revealed to other persons except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
  2. Records created and maintained by the Thomas College Public Safety for law enforcement purposes.
  3. An employment record of an individual, whose employment is not contingent on the fact that he or she is a student, provided the record is used only in relation to the individual’s employment.
  4. Records made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, other recognized professionals, or a paraprofessional, if the records are used only for treatment of a student and made available only to those persons providing the treatment.
  5. Alumni records that contain information about a student after he or she is no longer in attendance at the College and which do not relate to the person as a student.

Disclosure of Educational Records

Thomas College will disclose information from the student’s educational records only with the written consent of the student, except:

  1. To school officials who have legitimate educational interest in the records.

A school official is:

  • A person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position.
  • A person elected to the Board of Trustees.
  • A person employed by or under contract to the College to perform a special task, such as the attorney or auditor.

A school official has legitimate educational interest if the official is:

  • Performing a task that is specified in his or her position description.
  • Performing a task related to a student’s education.
  • Performing a task related to the discipline of a student.
  • Providing a service or benefit relating to the student or student’s family, such as health care, counseling, job placement, or financial aid.
  1. To officials of another school upon the student’s written request, in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
  2. To certain officials of the U.S. Department of Education, the Comptroller General, and state and local educational authorities, in connection with certain state or federally supported programs.
  3. In connection with a student’s request for or receipt of financial aid as necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, or conditions of the financial aid, or to enforce the terms and conditions of the aid.
  4. To organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the College.
  5. To accrediting organizations to carry out their functions.
  6. To parents of an eligible student who claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  7. To comply with a judicial order or a lawfully issued subpoena.
  8. To appropriate parties in a health or safety emergency.
  9. Directory information so designated by the College.
  10. The results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the College against an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence to the alleged victim of that crime.

Directory Information

Thomas College designates the following items as Directory Information: student name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, most recent previous school attended, e-mail address, web address and other similar information. The College may disclose any of those items without prior written consent, unless the Student Affairs Office is notified in writing.

Correction of Education Records

Students have the right to ask to have records corrected that they believe are in accurate, misleading, or in violation of privacy rights. Following are the procedures for the correction of records. [Note: see Disciplinary Procedures for process related to Disciplinary Records.]

  1. A student must ask the appropriate record custodian of Thomas College to amend a record. In doing so, the student should identify the part of the record they want changed and specify why they believe it is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his or her privacy or other rights.
  2. Thomas College may comply with the request or it may decide not to comply. If it decides not to comply, Thomas College will notify the student of the decision and advise them of their right to a hearing to challenge the information believed to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right.
  3. Upon request, Thomas College will arrange for a hearing and notify the student, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.
  4. The hearing will be conducted by a hearing officer who is a disinterested party; however, the hearing officer may be an official of the institution. The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised in the original request to amend the student’s education records. The student may be assisted by one or more individuals, including an attorney.
  5. Thomas College will prepare a written decision based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
  6. If Thomas College decides that the challenged information is not inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right of privacy, it will notify the student that they have a right to place in the record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or a statement setting forth reasons for disagreeing with the decision.
  7. The statement will be maintained as part of the student’s education records as long as the contested portion is maintained. If Thomas College discloses the contested portion of the record, it must also disclose the statement.
  8. If Thomas College decides that the information is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s right of privacy, it will amend the record and notify the student, in writing, that the record has been amended.

Procedure to Inspect Education Records

Students may inspect and review their educational records upon request to the appropriate record custodian. Students should submit to the record custodian, or an appropriate College staff person, a written request that identifies as precisely as possible the record or records he or she wishes to inspect. The record custodian or an appropriate College staff person will make the needed arrangements for access as promptly as possible and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Access must be given in 45 days or less from the receipt of the request. When a record contains information about more than one student, the student may inspect and review only the record(s) which relate to him/her.

Maintaining of Disciplinary Records

Student Discipline (or conduct) Records are maintained by the Vice President for Student Affairs in the Student Affairs Office. These files are maintained under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). All student discipline and related files are held for a period of no less than 3 years after separation from the College. Records may be destroyed at that time. Disciplinary records may be retained for longer periods or permanently if deemed necessary by the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Right to Refuse Access

Thomas College reserves the right to refuse to permit a student to inspect the following records:

  1. The financial statement of the student’s parents.
  2. Letters and statements of recommendation for which the student has waived his or her right of access, or which were placed in file before January 1, 1975.
  3. Records connected with an application to attend Thomas College if that application was denied.
  4. Other records that are excluded from the FERPA definition of education records.

Refusal to Provide Copies

Thomas College reserves the right to deny transcripts or copies of records not required to be made available by FERPA in any of the following situations:

  1. The student lives within commuting distance of Thomas College.
  2. The student has an unpaid financial obligation to the College.
  3. There is an unresolved disciplinary action against the student.

Fees for Copies of Records

The College may charge a reasonable fee for copies (the usual rate charged for non-College business as determined by the Accounting Office).

Types, Locations & Custodians of Education Records

The following is a list of the types of records that Thomas College maintains and their locations.

Type & Location

Admissions Records, Registrar
Registrar’s Office

Alumni Records, Database Administrator
Alumni Office

Athletic Records, Director of Athletics
Athletic Office

Counseling Records, Campus Counselor
Campus Counselor’s Office

Cumulative Academic Records, Registrar
Registrar’s Office (current students and former students after graduation or withdrawal)

Disciplinary Records, VP for Student Affairs
Student Affairs Office

Financial Aid Application, Student Financial Serv.
Student Financial Services Assistant

Financial Records, Student Financial Serv.
Director of Student Financial Services

Health Records, Director of Health Services
Health Center

Publicity Waiver

Thomas College assumes authority to use photos/videos of students taken on campus or at college related functions/events. These photos may be used for inclusion in the Thomas yearbook, publications, displays, exhibits, advertising, website, social media, or other similar marketing and promotions through various offices including Public Relations. Students who do not wish to have their photo used for these purposes must notify the Office of Student Affairs in writing.