image
 General Counsel

FAQs

 

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

In short, the law gives students enrolled at the University the right to:

  • access their student records;
  • review and request amendments to records; and,
  • consent to disclosures of records (note: some records may be released without consent) (20 U.S.C. s. 1232g).

Section 1006.52, Florida Statutes, recognizes student rights under FERPA and applies FERPA to applicant records.

An educational record is a records that is directly related to a student and maintained by the University or a party acting for the University.

A record is any information or data recorded in any medium including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, tapes, film, microfilm, microfiche, and any electronic storage or retrieval media.

The following records are excluded from the definition of education record:

  • Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.
  • Records of the law enforcement unit of the University, subject to §99.8.
  • Employee records. (A student’s employment records, who is employed only because the person is a student, are education records)
  • Treatment records that are made or maintained by a professional (physician, psychiatrist, etc.) or paraprofessional acting in his/her professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity;
    • Records made, maintained, or used only in connection with treatment of the student; and
    • disclosed only to individuals providing the treatment.
  • Records created or received by the University after an individual is no longer a student and that are not directly related to the individuals attendance as a student.

See FPU-3.001 Confidentiality of Student Records and Applicant Records for more information.

A student is any person who is, or has been, in attendance at the University.

A disclosure is permitting access to or the release, transfer or other communication of personally identifiable information contained in education records by any means, including oral, written or electronic means, to any party except the individual identified as the party that provided or created the record.

Personally identifiable information includes, but is not limited to:

  • The student’s name.
  • The name of student’s parents or other family members.
  • The address of the student or student’s family.
  • A personal identifier (SSN, student number, biometric record).
  • Indirect identifiers (date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name).
  • Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty.
  • Information requested by a person who the University reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
Some commons ways information in an education record can be disclosed include:
  • The student consents to disclosure by signing a FERPA waiver. The written consent must (1) specify the records that may be disclosed, (2) state the purpose of the disclosure, and (3) identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made.
  • When it's considered directory information, provided the student has not opted out. Note: If the student has opted out, the directory information can only be disclosed with the student’s written consent, through an applicable FERPA exemption, or if the student revokes the opt out.
  • There is a legitimate educational interest. A University official has a “legitimate educational interest” if the official needs to review a student record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibilities for the University.
  • To officials of another institution where the student is enrolling or is already enrolled. Note: The disclosure must be for purposes related to the student’s enrollment.
  • To authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, Attorney General of the United States, Secretary, or state and local educational authorities.
  • In connection with financial aid if necessary to determine the eligibility, amount, and conditions of aid, and/or enforce the terms and conditions.
  • For health and safety reasons. Personally identifiable information from an education record may be disclosed to appropriate parties, including parents, in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.

Directory information is information not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed when the education record is directory information.

The University has defined student directory information as:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Email address
  • Local and permanent address
  • Telephone number
  • Date and place of birth
  • University ID* (not SSN)
  • Enrollment status
  • Grade level, class, and college
  • Major field of study
  • Degrees earned
  • Dates of attendance
  • Nature and place of the student’s employment at the University
  • Most recent previous education institution attended
  • Graduation date
  • Honors and awards given to the student
  • Titles of publications by the student
  • Participation in recognized/registered activities and sports

 

Public Records

A public record is any record made or received in connection with the transaction of official business of the University unless it is exempt from disclosure by statute.

This includes:

  • Documents, papers, letters, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material.
  • Email messages, text messages, instant messaging services like Jabber, and social media.
  • Once circulated or shared, materials that are not in their final form, such as working drafts, or personal work.

Material that falls within the definition of a “public record” must be disclosed upon request unless there is a statutory exemption. See FPU-1.0123P Public Records Policy for more information

Common records exempt from disclosure include:

  • Education records under FERPA
  • Applicant records
  • Social Security numbers
  • Medical/psychological information
  • Records maintained for the purposes of any investigation of employee misconduct, grievance proceeding, or disciplinary proceeding until complete.
  • Academic evaluations of faculty records. This does not include in the State University System Student Assessment of Instruction.
  • Certain collective bargaining records
  • All Foundation records except for the auditor’s report, management letter, and any supplemental data requested by the Board of Governors, the university board of trustees, the Auditor General, and the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (see Section 1004.28(5)(b), Florida Statutes)
  • Personal banking information

Immediately forward the request to the Office of the General Counsel via email (if received by email). Otherwise, immediately notify the Office of General Counsel.

Record retention requirements state that University records:

  • Must be maintained in accordance with retention schedules promulgated by the state librarian. Records cannot be destroyed until the retention period has lapsed and the appropriate disposal process has been followed. An exception from disclosure only removes the records from public access requirements, it does not exempt the records from complying with record retention requirements.

For more information see:

 

Sunshine Law

The Sunshine Law provides the public the right to have prior notice of and to attend “meetings of any board or commission of any state agency.”

Any meeting of a board or committee of the University or Foundation that is delegated decision-making authority. Examples include, but are not limited to,

  • Board of Trustees meetings
  • Student Government Association meetings
  • Search committee meetings

It does not apply to meetings where the committee’s sole charge is a fact-finding role of gathering, reporting or exchanging information and is not exercising delegated decision-making authority

Any discussions between two or more committee/board members about a matter in which it is foreseeable that the committee/board might take action on.

“Meetings” include any workshops, telephone conversations, e-mail or text communications, or other interactions where covered material is exchanged, including social gatherings

Requirements include:

  • The meeting must be open to the public.
  • The meeting must be held in a location accessible to the public.
  • Minutes must be taken to reflect what occurred at the meeting.
    • Minutes are defined as a  summary, series of brief notes, or memoranda reflecting the events on the meeting.
    • They must include a record of all votes cast.
    • A verbatim transcript is not required.
    • Meetings do not have to be recorded; however, if the meeting is recorded, written minutes are still required.
    • If the meetings are recorded, the recordings must be retained.
    • A written transcript of the meeting may be used as the minutes.

Reasonable notice of the meeting must be provided and posted. The notice:

  • Should contain the time and place of the meeting and, if available, an agenda. If no agenda is available, subject matter summations should be provided.
  • Should be prominently displayed in an area set aside for that purpose. Posting to the University’s external calendar is an efficient way to ensure the public is notified of meetings.
  • Should be provided at least 7 days prior to the meeting. For emergency meetings, notice should be given in the most appropriate and effective way under the circumstances but no less than 24 hours and preferably 72 hours
  • Must include the advice that if a person decides to appeal any decision taken at the meeting, he or she will need a record of the proceedings, and that, for such purpose, he or she may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceedings is made (Section 286.0105, Florida Statutes)

Yes, members of the public must be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a proposition before the board/commission. See Section 286.0014, Florida Statutes. Information on how to speak at a Board of Trustee's meeting can be found here.

Yes, voting requirements include:

  • No secret ballots.
  • Roll call votes are not required.
  • Written ballots may be used as long as the votes are made openly at a public meeting; the name of the person who voted and his/her selection are written on the ballot; and the ballots are maintained and made available for public inspection.
  • Voting by proxy is not allowed.
  • Members may not abstain from voting unless they declare a conflict of interest.
  • The minutes must reflect a vote for each member.