The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is a federal law regarding the privacy of student education records and the related obligations of educational institutions, primarily in the areas of education record access and information release. FERPA’s primary purposes are to ensure that students have an opportunity to review their own education records, to provide students with a process for requesting amendments to their education records, and to protect the confidentiality of students’ education records.
FERPA governs education record access and release by:
- defining students’ rights regarding their education records;
- specifying under which conditions students’ education records may be shared within JHU; and
- specifying under which conditions student’ education records may be shared outside of JHU.
Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA
JHU is required to notify eligible students currently in attendance of their rights under FERPA. This annual notification of rights is provided in SIS, the student information system, and is also included in the Johns Hopkins University Academic Catalogue. In addition, this information is available on the Annual Notification of Rights Under FERPA website.
All FERPA-related forms are available on the Office of the University Registrar’s FERPA Forms website.
Frequently Asked Questions About FERPA
What is directory information?
Directory information is information contained in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
FERPA permits institutions to establish and disclose without consent a student’s directory information provided that it has given public notice to students in attendance regarding (1) the specific types of personally identifiable information that it has designated as directory information, and (2) the rights of students to refuse disclosure of their directory information.
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has established the following as directory information:
- Name of a student who is in attendance or who has been in attendance
- Name pronunciation
- Local address of a present or former student
- Hopkins e-mail address of a present or former student
- Local telephone number of a present or former student
- Major field of study of a present or former student
- Participation in Johns Hopkins Athletics (limited to hometown, sport, height, and/or weight)
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and awards received, and pertinent dates
- Photograph (still, video, audio)
- Classification (enrollment status), and level of study
A student may restrict the release of directory information by submitting a Request to Prevent Disclosure of Directory Information form. If a student restricts the release of directory information, a notation appears in SIS, the student information system. The student’s restricted information cannot be released without their written consent.
Can JHU disclose non-directory information from student education records without the written consent of the student?
JHU can disclose non-directory information from student education records without written consent from the student under the following conditions:
- to university and school officials who have legitimate educational interests;
- if the disclosure is information the University has designated as directory information;
- to a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party (including the National Student Clearinghouse) to whom the University has outsourced institutional services or functions and is considered a university or school official performing an institutional service or function for which the University would otherwise use employees and is under the direct control of the university with respect to use and maintenance of education records;
- to officials of another educational institution in which the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer;
- to authorized representatives of the U.S. comptroller general, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, the attorney general of the United States, or state and local educational authorities;
- to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, the University for the purpose of developing, validating, or administering predictive tests, administering student aid programs, and improving instruction;
- to accrediting organizations to carry out their accrediting functions;
- to contractors, consultants, volunteers, or other parties to whom the University has outsourced institutional services or functions and are considered university and school officials performing an institutional service or function for which the University would otherwise use employees, and are under the direct control of the University with respect to use and maintenance of education records;
- to parents of a dependent student, as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
- to parents of a student under the age of 21 the student’s violation of any federal, state or local law, or of any rule or policy of the university governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, where the University determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation;
- to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, with the condition that the University makes a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance so that the student may seek protective action, if applicable;
- in a health or safety emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals;
- in connection with a disciplinary proceeding at an institution of postsecondary education; and
- in connection with financial aid for which a student has applied or which a student has received.
The University may also disclose:
- to the victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, the final results of the disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University with respect to that crime or offense; and
- the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, where the University determines as a result of that disciplinary proceeding that a student alleged to be a perpetrator of a crime of violence or a nonforcible sex offense has committed a violation of University rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against the student. Disclosure of final results may include name of the student who is the alleged perpetrator, any violation committed and any sanction imposed (including description of disciplinary action, date imposed and the sanction’s duration).
Can parents/legal guardians have access to their student’s education records?
At the post-secondary level, parents/legal guardians are unable to inspect education records without written authorization from their student. JHU may disclose education records to parents/legal guardians of students who are claimed as dependents for federal income tax purposes. For more information, visit the Blue Jay Families website.
Will JHU notify parents/legal guardians if their student is sick or hurt?
JHU may notify parents/legal guardians when there is a health or safety emergency involving their student if they claim the student as their dependent, or if they are listed as the student’s emergency contact. For more information, visit the Blue Jay Families website.
Will JHU notify parents/legal guardians if their student is in violation of the Student Conduct Code?
JHU, at its discretion, may notify the parents/legal guardians of students under the age of twenty one (21) at the time of disclosure if their student is found responsible for Student Conduct Code violations. These violations include alcohol and drug policies, as well as cases that result in suspension and expulsion.
Is the public posting of grades by faculty permissible under FERPA?
No. The public posting of grades by the student’s name or Hopkins ID number without the student’s written permission is a violation of FERPA. Additional violations include:
- Leaving graded tests in a stack for students to pick up by sorting through the papers of all students
- Circulating a printed class list with names and/or Hopkins ID numbers as an attendance roster
- Discussing the progress of any student with anyone other than the student (including parents/legal guardians) without the written consent of the student
- Providing lists of students enrolled in class to a third party for any commercial purpose
- Providing student schedules or assisting anyone other than University employees in finding a student on campus
What are the responsibilities of JHU staff members under FERPA?
JHU employees may have access to student education records. They are placed in a position of trust and play an integral part in ensuring that student records are handled properly. All employees have a responsibility to protect all education records in their possession.
In general, all student information must be treated as confidential. Even public or JHU-defined directory information is subject to restriction on an individual basis. Examples of FERPA violations include:
- releasing confidential student information (non-directory) to another student, university organization, or outside entities;
- distributing student transcripts;
- leaving reports or computer screens containing confidential student information in view of others or unattended;
- sharing passwords with others; and
- disclosing directory information if the student has restricted the release of any or all of their directory information.
A Special Note to Student Employees
Safeguarding student privacy is a matter of concern to all offices within JHU and to all persons who have access to office facilities. The Office of the University Registrar and divisional registrar offices are the official repositories for student academic records, folders and other files, although records relating to students are maintained in many other offices on campus. Student employees placed in a unique position of trust since a major responsibility of offices is the security and confidentiality of student records and files. Examples of FERPA violations include:
- making or permitting unauthorized use of any information in the files maintained, stored, or processed by the the student’s office of employment. This includes copies of registration and add/drop forms.
- discussing the contents of any record, report, or academic status with any person;
- removing any official record or report, or copy thereof, from the office where it is maintained; and
- disclosing directory or non-directory information about a student over the phone without first consulting with a supervisor.
Any knowledge of a violation must be immediately reported to a supervisor.
What happens if JHU does not comply with FERPA?
If JHU does not comply with FERPA, the Department of Education may issue a notice to cease the noncompliant practice and ultimately could withhold federal funding. Other penalties dependent on the type of record and the nature of the disclosure could also be imposed.
Are recordings of classes and other activities permissible under FERPA?
At JHU, participation in any University activities, including, but not limited to, attendance, participation in class and other campus and University activities, constitutes an agreement by the student to the University’s use, reproduction and distribution of the student’s photographs or image, video, and/or audio both now and in the future.
If any student in a class where such photographing or recording is to take place wishes to have their image or voice excluded, the student should raise the matter in advance with the instructor.
Additional information is available at https://keepteaching.jhu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Zoom-Guidelines09112020.pdf
U.S. Department of Education FERPA Resources
Please visit the Office of the University Registrar’s FERPA Compliance website for more information related to FERPA and JHU’s FERPA compliance procedures. For any questions regarding FERPA at JHU, please submit a support request through the Office of Student Enrollment and Account Management (SEAM) or contact the Office of General Counsel.