Frequently Asked Questions
How does FERPA apply to faculty and staff?
The law requires faculty and staff to treat students' education records in a legally specified manner.Grades: Students' scores or grades should not be displayed publicly. Even with names obscured, numeric student identifiers such as student ID numbers and SSNs are considered personally identifiable information and must not be posted publicly. Using directory information, such as birth date, to post grades, is not permissible because a student's grade would be linked to information that could reasonably be known by others. Grades, transcripts or degree audits reviewed for purposes of advisement should not be placed in plain view in open mail boxes located in public places.
Papers: Graded papers or tests should not be left unattended on a desk in plain view in a public area nor should students sort through them in order to retrieve their own work. This includes graded items left outside of offices that the public can access.
Athletes: The education records of student athletes are protected by FERPA. Without a signed consent form, educational records may not be publicly disclosed such as on a published team roster. Members of the athletic staff including coaches are named as school officials and have the right to access their athletes' educational records that pertain to athletic eligibility.
Class Rosters/Grades Sheets: These and other reports should be handled in a confidential manner and the information contained on them should not be redisclosed to third parties. The SpartanWeb class list indicates when a student has a FERPA restriction to either remain anonymous or to grant access to their parents. Call the Registrar's Office at (813) 258-7290 with questions on a specific student's FERPA restriction.
Parents: The University may disclose information contained in a student's education record if the parent claims the student as “dependent” as defined by the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, Section 152. Students can authorize any individual to have access to their educational record by signing a FERPA release to parents.
SpartanWeb: Access to SpartanWeb is not tantamount to authorization to view the data. Faculty are deemed to be "school officials" and can access data in SpartanWeb if they have a "legitimate educational interest." A legitimate educational interest exists if the faculty member needs to view the education record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Neither curiosity nor personal interest constitute a legitimate educational "need to know." Mailing lists or labels made from this data is in violation of the act.
How will I know if a student has requested that "Directory Information" not be disclosed?
If the student has requested privacy, the “PRIVACY” field on the student’s BIO page of SpartanWeb will say, “Withhold Information on this Student.” The class roster will indicate whether the student has any FERPA releases or restrictions on file. If there is an indication of a FERPA release to parents, and you are in the position to release restricted information, consult with the Registrar's front-office staff to find out the name of the specific parent(s) who were granted access by their student.
Where can I get general information about FERPA?
General information about students privacy rights can be found at http://www.ut.edu/registrar/ferpa/ and in the UT Catalog Appendix.
Who should I contact with questions?
Michelle Pelaez, University Registrar
Important Note: The above information is intended to give general information about FERPA and to acquaint faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue.