Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (PL-380)
The University of Wyoming has the responsibility for effectively supervising any access to and/or release of official data/information related to the education records of its students. Certain items of information about individual students are fundamental to the educational process and must be recorded. This recorded information concerning students must be used only for clearly‑defined purposes, must be safeguarded and controlled to avoid violations of personal privacy, and must be appropriately disposed of when the justification for its collection and retention no longer exists.
In this regard, the university is committed to protecting, to the maximum extent possible, the right of privacy of all individuals about whom it holds information, records, and files. Access to, and release of, such records is restricted to the student concerned, to parents of dependent students, to others with the student’s written consent, to officials within the university, to a court of competent jurisdiction, and otherwise pursuant to law.
All official information collected and maintained in the university identifiable with an individual student will be made available for inspection and review at the written request of that student subject to certain exceptions.
For purposes of access to records at the University of Wyoming, students enrolled (or formerly enrolled) for academic credit or audit at the university shall have access to official records concerning themselves.
A request for general access to all official records, files, and data maintained by the university must be made in writing to the registrar or to other person(s) as designated by the university officer in charge of the unit maintaining records. A request for access to official data maintained in a particular office may be made to the administrative head of the office.
When students (or former students) appear at a given office and request access to the university record about themselves:
- The student must provide proper identification verifying that he or she is the person whose record is being accessed.
- The designated staff person(s) must supervise the review of the contents of the record with the student.
- Inspection and review shall be permitted within a period not to exceed 45 days from the date of the student’s request.
- Students will be free to make notes concerning the contents, but no material will be removed from the record at the time.
Recordkeeping personnel and members of the faculty and staff with administrative assignment may have access to records and files for internal educational purposes as well as for routine necessary clerical, administrative, and statistical purposes as required by the duties of their jobs. The name and position of the official responsible for the maintenance of each type of education record may be obtained from the registrar of the university.
Any other access allowed by law must be recorded showing the legitimate educational or other purpose and the signature of the person gaining access. The student concerned shall be entitled to review this information.
Release of Information
No personally identifiable information shall be disclosed to any individual (including parents, spouse, or other students) or organization except as follows:
- Disclosure is authorized in writing by the student.
- Disclosure is to university officers or employees who need to know so as to accomplish legitimate university purposes related to their functions.
- Disclosure is to a governmental agency, educational organization, parent of a dependent student, or other entity as described by federal regulations or otherwise required by state or federal law. Custodians of records should obtain interpretations whenever third parties request personally identifiable information.
- To authorized educational authorities at the local, state, and federal level.
- When disclosure of any personally identifiable data/information from university records about a student is demanded pursuant to court order or lawfully issued subpoena, the staff member receiving such order shall, if possible, immediately notify the student concerned in writing prior to compliance with such order or subpoena. (NOTE: In fulfillment of its responsibilities to monitor certain state benefit and entitlement programs, the Wyoming state auditor may issue to the university from time to time an administrative subpoena for a listing of currently enrolled full‑time students, the students’ social security numbers, and information relating to the nature and amount of any educational financial aid being received by such students. Upon being served with such a subpoena, the university will provide the information requested without further notice.)
- Data/information from university records about students will be released for approved research purposes only if the identity of the student involved is fully protected, or if the research is related to official university business and not publicly disseminated.
- Information from university records may be released to appropriate persons in connection with an emergency if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other persons.
The university officer responsible for the records from which information is released shall maintain with the student’s record a listing of disclosures of personally identifiable information, except disclosures in accordance with items 1 and 2 above for which no record need be kept. The listing shall identify the parties who requested or obtained information and the legitimate interests these parties had in making the request.
Public or Directory Information
The following items are considered public data/information and may be disclosed by the university in response to inquiries concerning individual students, whether the inquiries are in person, in writing, or over the telephone:
- Affirmation of whether currently enrolled;
- Campus location.
Unless students have officially filed a written request with the university registrar within ten working days after the first day of classes for a semester that disclosure not be made without their written permission, the following items, in addition to those above, are considered public/ directory information; may be included in appropriate university/campus directories and publications; and may be disclosed by designated staff members in response to inquiries concerning individual students, whether the inquiries are in person, in writing, or over the telephone:
- School, college, department, major, or division;
- Dates of enrollment;
- Degrees received;
- Honors received;
- Local address and phone number;
- Home address (permanent);
- Email address;
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports;
- Weight and height of members of athletic teams;
- Full-time or part-time enrollment.
Letters of Appraisal/Recommendation
Candid appraisals and evaluations of performance and potential are an essential part of the educational process. Clearly, the providing of such information to prospective employers, to other educational institutions, or to other legitimately concerned outside individuals and agencies is necessary and in the interest of the particular student.
Data/information which was part of university records prior to January 1, 1975 and which was collected and maintained as confidential information will not be disclosed to students. Should a student desire access to a confidential letter of appraisal received prior to January 1, 1975, the student shall be advised to have the writer of that appraisal notify, in writing, the concerned records custodian of the decision as to whether or not the writer is willing to have the appraisal made available for the student’s review. Unless a written response is received approving a change of status in the letter, the treatment of the letter as a confidential document shall continue.
Documents of appraisal relating to students and collected by the university or any department or office of the university on or after January 1, 1975, will be maintained confidentially only if a waiver of the right of access has been executed by the student. In the absence of such a waiver, all such documents will be available for the student’s inspection and review.
If a student files a written waiver with the department or office concerned, letters of appraisal received pursuant to that waiver will be maintained confidentially. Forms will be available for this purpose.
Challenges to the Record
All students shall have the opportunity to challenge any item in their file which they consider to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise inappropriate. A student shall initiate a challenge by submitting a request in writing for the deletion or correction of the particular item. The request shall be made to the custodian of the particular record in question.
If the custodian and the student involved are unable to resolve the matter to the satisfaction of both parties, the written request for deletion or correction shall be submitted by the student to such person as designated by the president of the university who shall serve as the hearing officer. The student shall be given the opportunity for a hearing at which the student may present oral or written justification for the request for deletion or correction. The hearing officer may obtain such other information as he or she deems appropriate for use in the hearing and shall give the student a written decision on the matter within 30 days from the conclusion of the hearing. If the decision of the hearing officer is to deny the deletion or correction of an item in the student’s file, the student shall be entitled to submit a written statement presenting the student’s position with regard to the item to the hearing officer. Both the written decision of the hearing officer and the statement submitted by the student shall be inserted in the student’s file. The decision of the hearing officer shall be final.
Grades may be challenged under this procedure only on the basis of the accuracy of their transcription or posting.
Exception to the Policy
It is the position of the university that certain data/information maintained in various offices of the university is not subject to the provisions of this policy with regard to inspection, review, challenge, correction, or deletion. Exceptions to “education records” include: alumni records, employment records, law enforcement records, medical records, sole possession records, and university disciplinary records.
- Statements submitted by parent(s)/guardian or spouse in support of financial aid or residency determinations are considered to be confidential between those persons and the university and are not subject to the provisions of this policy except with the written consent of the persons involved. Such documents are not regarded as part of the student’s official record.
- University employment records of students are not included in this policy, except as provided under the Wyoming Public Records Act.
- With regard to general health data, only that data/information which is used by the university in making a decision regarding the student’s status is subject to review by the student under this policy. Written psychiatric or psychological case notes which form the basis for diagnoses, recommendations, or treatment plans remain privileged information not accessible to the student. Such case notes are not considered to be part of official university records. To ensure the availability of correct and helpful interpretations of any psychological test scores, notes, or other evaluative or medical materials, the contents of these files for an individual student may be reviewed by that student only in consultation with a professional staff member of the specific department involved. Records that are subject to FERPA are not subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
- Records relating to a continuing or active criminal investigation by the University of Wyoming Police Department, or records of said office not relating to the student’s status with the university, are not subject to this policy.
- No student is entitled to see information or records that pertain to another student, to parents, or to other third parties. A student is entitled to review only that portion of an official record or file that pertains to him or her.
- The personal files, or sole possession records, of members of the faculty and staff which concern students, including private correspondence, and notes which refer to students, are not regarded as official records of the university. This includes notes intended for the personal use of the faculty and never intended to be official records of the university. In order to be sole possession records, they cannot be shared with anyone else.
Release of Personally Identifiable Information in a Deceased Student’s Education Record
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)’s protection of personally identifiable information in a student’s education record ends at the time of a student’s death. The University of Wyoming’s policy on the release of a deceased student’s records is as follows:
Within the first year following the death of a student, the University will release the educational records of the decedent to the following individuals:
- If the student submitted a signed Authorization to Release Educational Records form which designated the person(s) eligible to request and/or receive educational records, the information will be released to the individual on that form.
- The decedent’s next of kin. The request must be accompanied by official documentation.
- The individual designated as the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The request must be accompanied by official documentation.
- Members of the family or other persons with the written approval from the decedent’s next of kin or the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Absent written approval from the family or representative of the estate, only directory information will be disclosed.
- In response to a subpoena or court order.
- To any other individual, if determined by the University to be in the best interest of the decedent or the University.
After one year has elapsed following the death of an individual student, the University may release the educational records of the decedent at the University’s discretion.
Rights of Students
Students are hereby notified that controlling provisions of federal law are contained in Sec. 438, Pub. L.90‑247, Title IV, as amended, 88 Stat. 571‑574 (U.S.C. 1232g) and regulations set forth in the code of Federal Regulations, 34 C.F.R. sections 99.1 to 99.67 (1981). Complaints of institutional noncompliance may be made to the Department of Education as provided in the regulations.