The Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (commonly called the Buckley Amendment) is designed to, with certain exceptions, protect the privacy of education records, establish the rights of students to inspect and review their records, and provide a means of correcting inaccurate and misleading data. Lynn University makes every effort to comply with this legislation.
Certain information is considered public and is released at the University’s discretion. Unless a student files written notification to withhold disclosure, the University will release directory information (see list below). This includes announcements of graduation, honors and awards, and verification of the dates of attendance and conferring of degrees. Names, addresses, phone numbers, and other directory information will be released for use within the University community. Only transcripts of academic records and statement of academic status pertaining to Lynn University course work are released to third parties and then only with the written authorization of the student.
Parents of a dependent student have the right of access to educational records.
A student or eligible parent has the right to challenge any content of the student’s education record which is considered to be inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy or other rights. Such challenge may be directed to the Office of the Registrar in writing and clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. Please note, however, that Lynn University is not required to consider requests for amendment under FERPA that seek to change a grade, disciplinary decision, or the opinions or reflections of a school official or other person reflected in an education record.
- If the University decides not to amend the record as requested by the student or eligible parent, the Registrar will notify the student or eligible parent of the decision and advise the student or parent of the right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment.
- The request shall be in writing and presented to the Vice President for Academic Affairs. A hearing officer appointed by the Vice President for Academic Affairs will conduct the hearing. The hearing will be conducted within a reasonable time frame after the request for the hearing has been received. The hearing officer will notify the student or eligible parent, reasonably in advance, of the date, place, and time of the hearing.
- The student or eligible parent will be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issue raised. One or more other persons may accompany the student or parent. Such individuals, however, are not permitted to address the hearing officer. The hearing officer will make a decision in writing based upon the evidence presented at the hearing within a reasonable time. The decision will include a summary of the evidence presented and the reasons for the decision.
- If the hearing officer supports the challenge request, the education record will be amended accordingly and the student or eligible parent will be so informed. If the hearing officer decides not to amend the education record, the student has the right to place in the education record a statement commenting on the challenged information and/or stating the reasons for disagreement with the decision. This statement will be maintained as part of the education record as long as the contested portion of the record is maintained, and whenever a copy of the education record is sent to any party, the student’s statement will be included.
A student’s permanent record consists of the transcript, application for admittance, and semester grade reports. These are maintained in the Office of the Registrar. All documentation used in the admission and placement processes, while considered nonpermanent, also is maintained in the Office of the Registrar during the period of the student’s enrollment.
Lynn University has designated the following information as “directory information” and may release this information, without written consent or disclosure:
- All addresses
- College or school of enrollment
- Date and place of birth
- Dates of graduation
- Dates of attendance
- Degrees and/or honors awarded
- Expected date of graduation
- Full/part-time status
- ID Photograph
- Lynn University ID number
- Merit scholarship
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Student’s full name
- Telephone and text message listings
- Weight and height
In order to withhold the release of the above information, the student must present the request to prevent disclosure form or a formal letter to the Registrar’s office. This information will be withheld until the student releases it.
Student access to educational records
All students and former students have access to their educational records upon written request to the Office of the Registrar. Educational records include academic records, applications, high school transcript, letters of recommendation, and judicial files. With respect to former students, the term education records excludes records that are created or received after an individual is no longer a student in attendance at Lynn University and are not directly related to the individuals attendance as a student. An example of a record excluded from the definition would be alumni services. Any student who requests access to any educational record is expected to present valid identification.
There are some records to which the student has no right of access. These are:
- Professional mental health treatment records to the extent necessary, in the judgment of the attending physician or professional counselor, to avoid detrimental effects to the mental health of the student or of others. These records may, however, be reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice.
- Financial information furnished by the student’s parents in support of an application for financial aid.
- Confidential letters of recommendation that were placed in the student’s file prior to January 1, 1975.
- Confidential letters of recommendation concerning admission, employment, or honorary recognition, for which the student has waived access. (Lynn University may not require a student to sign a waiver in order to obtain services, but a person writing a recommendation may insist on a waiver as a condition for writing it).
- Personal notes made by a faculty member or counselor that are accessible only to that person and are not shared with others.
- Materials in any admissions files, until the student has been admitted to, and has attended Lynn University.
Release of confidential records
The University will not release any confidential records concerning any student or former student unless a written statement authorizing such a release is supplied by the student or former student. Exceptions to this policy are:
- Faculty and staff members with legitimate educational interests in the record: One exception that permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.
- A school official is a person employed by Lynn University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or staff position (including Campus Safety and Security personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University 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 disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing official tasks.
- A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record in order to fulfill the official’s professional responsibility.
- Additionally, education records may be released to contractors, consultants, volunteers, and other outside service providers used by the University to perform institutional services and functions, that it would otherwise use employees of the University to perform. The University must use “reasonable methods” to ensure that the school official obtain access to only those education records-paper or electronic-in which they have legitimate educational interests and the burden falls to the institution to justify access if questioned.
- Authorized federal and state officials in the process of administering educational programs: The regulations clarify that educational agencies and institutions may provide personally identifiable information within education records to federal or state auditors without prior consent without violating FERPA.
- Administration requirements of the financial aid program.
- Accrediting organizations carrying out their accrediting functions;
- Parents of a dependent student: The regulations clarify that the University may disclose educational records to the student’s parents without student consent if the student is a dependent for Federal Income Tax purposes.
- Organizations conducting studies on educational programs, providing that the identity of the student is not revealed;
- Emergency situations involving the health or safety of students or other persons: In making a determination under the health and safety exception, which allows educational institutions to disclose education records in the case of a health or safety emergency, institutions are now allowed to exercise judgment as follows:
- The University may take into account the “totality of the circumstances” pertaining to a threat to the safety or health of a student or other individuals.
- If the University determines there is an “articulable and significant threat” to the health or safety of a student or others, it may disclose information from education records to third parties, whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect them, including the health and safety of the student or others.
- If, based on the information available at the time, there is a rational basis for that determination at the time the decision is made.
- In addition, the University is permitted to allow disclosure of personally identifiable information from an education record to “appropriate parties,” including parents of a student, if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or other individuals.
- The Department of Education will require that the University involved in a disclosure under these circumstances to record the nature of the threat and the parties to whom it disclosed information under the “health and safety” emergency section.
- FERPA also allows disclosure to parents if the student has violated any Federal, State, or local law, or any rule or policy of the institution, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, if the institution determines that the student has committed a disciplinary violation regarding the use or possession and the student is under twenty-one at the time of the disclosure.
- Disclosure made in compliance with judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena;
- Disclosure made pursuant to federal and state law, including complying with the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act. To conform to the requirements of the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, University officials are permitted to release information they received from a state community notification program about a student registered as a sex offender in the State.
- Information designated by the University as directory information.
- Disclosure to Other Colleges, Universities and/or schools to which a student is transferring: The authority to disclose or transfer education records to a student’s new school does not cease automatically the moment a student has enrolled in the new school and continues to be enrolled at any future point in time so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. This means that the University may disclose any records or information, including health and disciplinary records, that the University could have disclosed when the student was seeking or intending to enroll in the new school.
- Disclosure made to a victim of an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, subject to the requirements of 34 CFR §99.39(a)(13). The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding with respect to that alleged crime or offense, regardless of the finding.
- Disclosure made to the general public, the final results of a disciplinary proceeding, subject to the requirements of §99.39(a)(14), if the school determines the student is an alleged perpetrator of a crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense and the student has committed a violation of the school’s rules or policies with respect to the allegation made against him or her. While the University reserves the right under the above stated circumstances to disclose information from a student’s education records without the student’s written consent, the university is under no obligation to do so. University offices maintaining education records will keep a record of all parties requesting or obtaining access to the contents of student records (except in case of requests by school officials; or by parties requesting directory information). This record of request must identify the legitimate interest the person(s) had in seeking or obtaining information contained in a record and may be available for inspection by the student identified by the record.
Challenges to content of records
A student may challenge the contents of an education record which they consider to be inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights. Students may initiate a challenge by submitting a written request to the custodian of the particular record in question, who shall attempt to resolve the problem through informal discussions. If a challenge to a record is not satisfactorily resolved by this procedure, the student will be informed of their right to a formal hearing, the procedures to be followed concerning such a hearing, and its composition.
Upon the request of the student, a formal hearing may be held following these guidelines:
- The hearing shall be conducted and decided within a reasonable period of time following the request for the hearing. The student shall be notified as to the time and place of any hearing;
- The student shall be afforded a full and fair opportunity to present evidence relevant to the issues raised;
- The University shall be afforded the opportunity to present testimonial and/or documentary evidence in response to any evidence presented by the student;
- The hearing shall be conducted, and the decision rendered, by a University official or other party who does not have a direct interest in the outcome of the hearing. The appropriate President Cabinet member with oversight over the record in question shall appoint such official or other party;
- The decision will be rendered in writing within a reasonable period of time after the conclusion of the hearing;
- The record of the hearing and decision will be preserved in the student’s file.
Lynn University will annually inform individuals in attendance of their rights under FERPA, including the right to consent to disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in their education records, the right to opt out of the disclosure of “directory information,” the right to review and seek correction of education records, and the right to file a complaint with the Department of Education concerning the University’s alleged failure to comply with FERPA.
The University’s policy regarding disclosure of student information to parents is based both upon legal requirements and the University’s philosophy that students should be treated as adults. The University generally will not share educational records (other than Directory Information) with third parties, including parents or guardians, without student consent, except in limited circumstances where such disclosure is permitted under FERPA (described below) and where the university determines in its discretion that disclosure is appropriate.
- In connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.
- To the parent or legal guardian of a student under the age of 21, information regarding the student’s violation of a University policy governing the use or possession of alcohol or drugs.
- To a person who submits a written affirmation that he or she is the parent or legal guardian of a student and that the student is a dependent within the meaning of Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
- In other limited circumstances as allowed under FERPA and its implementing regulations, as they may be amended.
In cases involving a health or safety emergency or a violation of a university policy regarding the use or possession of alcohol or drugs, a decision to notify parents or guardians about information contained in an education record - and the actual communications to the parents or guardians - will be made by Student Affairs, in each case after consultation with the student's school office and other appropriate offices. Whenever practicable, a student whose parents or guardians are to be notified will be informed before such notification occurs and given an opportunity to initiate contact with his or her parents or guardians.
Students’ permanent academic files, including all official transcripts, are maintained in the Office of the Registrar. Students needing access to their files must contact the Office of the Registrar.
Right to file a complaint
In addition to the above rights, the act also affords students the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by Lynn University to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the Office that administers FERPA is: Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, D.C., 20202 8520
For a complete description of FERPA regulations, please visit the Family Policy Compliance Office in the Department of Education.