Confidentiality of Permanent Records

Confidentiality of Permanent Records

Spartanburg Methodist College hereby informs students of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA or the “Buckley Amendment”).  This act, as amended, stipulates that all students, regardless of age, who are or have been in attendance at an institution of post-secondary education have the right to inspect and review their educational records within a reasonable period of time (not to exceed 45 days) after making a request for such a review.  In addition, this act was designed to protect the privacy of educational records and to provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data through informal and formal hearings.  Students also have the right to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the institution to comply with the act.  Spartanburg Methodist College is in full compliance with the provisions of that legislation.

Although student records are considered confidential under this act, an exception is provided for directory information.  Directory information, which may be released to the public at large, includes the following:  name, address, email address, telephone number, cell phone number, dates of attendance, class, previous institutions attended, major field of study, awards, honors, degrees conferred, past and present participation in officially recognized sports and activities, physical factors (height, weight of athletes), and date and place of birth.  Students who prefer that Directory Information not be released must complete a written request to the Registrar's office no later than 30 days after the first day of the first semester of enrollment. Contact the Registrar's office via email if you have questions. 

FERPA ANNUAL NOTICE TO REFLECT POSSIBLE FEDERAL and STATE DATA COLLECTION AND USE: As of January 3, 2012, the U. S. Department of Education’s FERPA regulations expand the circumstances, under which your education records and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in such records – including your Social Security number, grades, or other private information – may be accessed without your consent.  First, the U. S. Comptroller General, the U. S. Attorney General, the U. S. Secretary of Education, or state and local education authorities (“Federal and State Authorities”) may allow access to your records and PII without your consent to any third party designated by a Federal or State Authority to evaluate a federal – or – state-supported education program.  The evaluation may relate to any program that is “principally engaged in the provision of education,” such as early childhood education and job training, as well as any program that is administered by an education agency or institution.  Second, Federal and State Authorities may allow access to your education records and PII without your consent to researchers performing certain types of studies, in certain cases even when we object to or do not request such research.  Federal and State Authorities must obtain certain use-restriction and data security promises from the entities that they authorize to receive your PII, but the Authorities need not maintain direct control over such entities.  In addition, in connection with Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems, State Authorities may collect, compile, permanently retain, and share without your consent PII from your education records, and they may track your participation in education and other programs by linking such PII to other personal information about you that they obtain from other Federal or State data sources, including workforce development, unemployment insurance, child welfare, juvenile justice, military service, and migrant student records systems.

SPECIAL NOTE TO PARENTS:  Spartanburg Methodist College, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“the Buckley Amendment”), releases no personal information restricted by that Act without consent of the student. To give consent, students must complete the FERPA Access Authorization form available through their student portal.  This Act prohibits College officials from disclosing any records, including grade reports, academic standing, transcripts of records, or any other records, files, documents, and materials in whatever medium, that contain information directly related to the student and by which the student can be individually identified.  Authorization for parental access to student records covered by the Act must be made by the student completing the FERPA Access Authorization form available through their student portal.  Exceptions to the student authorization for parental access may be made when the students are the legal dependents of their parents.  Written verification of that dependency shall be required before any records are released.

Students who wish to inspect and review their records must request access to those records in writing with such requests to be addressed to the Registrar of Spartanburg Methodist College.  Inspection and review of records must take place in the Registrar’s office.  Access will ordinarily be granted within one week’s time of receiving the request.  Should the inspection and review result in a request to amend the records, students must request such an amendment in writing and direct the appeal to the Registrar of Spartanburg Methodist College. Questions concerning the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act may be referred to the Registrar.

One exception which permits disclosure without consent is disclosure to school officials with legitimate educational interests.  A school official is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted for services (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a member of the Board of Trustees; or a student serving on an official College committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks.  School officials have legitimate educational interests if they need to review an educational record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities.

Amendments to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in June of 2000 allow additional disclosure of certain disciplinary records without students’ permission.  Disclosure is allowed in situations involving crimes of violence and for violation of laws and campus policies related to alcohol and controlled substances.  Disclosure is required in situations involving alleged sexual assault.  See the Spartanburg Methodist College Student Handbook for more specific explanations.