This policy addresses the process by which Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College) provides access to and safeguards student records.
Scope and Applicability
This policy describes the right of students to access their records; a process for students to access their records and challenge records they believe are inaccurate; the extent to which student records are confidential; and the limits of releasing education records to third parties. This policy applies to all SFCC students, all employees and all individuals who request access to student records.
SFCC is committed to protecting the confidentiality of student records and to ensuring that students have access to their records and the ability to confirm their accuracy. SFCC is committed to providing a campus environment where students feel safe to seek counseling services without concern that the information in their medical (counseling) records may be inappropriately disclosed. Campus community health and safety are of the utmost importance and are a high priority.
- Authorized Representative according to FERPA, includes any entity or individual designated by a state or local educational authority or an agency authorized to conduct any audit, evaluation or compliance or enforcement activity in connection with federal legal requirements that relate to federal- or state-supported education programs.
- College Officials includes any employee, board member, or administrator of SFCC as well as any attorneys, consultants, and independent contractors retained by SFCC.
- Directory Information Information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released, can also be disclosed to outside organizations without a student or parent’s prior written consent. What the College considers to be Directory Information is published in the SFCC Catalog annually.
- Educational Records as defined by FERPA, includes all documents, computer files and other materials that contain information directly related to a student that are created and maintained by SFCC. Educational Records also includes student records relating to an individual in attendance at the College who is also employed at the College.
- Employee is any member of the college workforce: all staff (regular full-time, regular part-time, term, temporary, probationary and sensitive position); all student employees; all faculty (full-time, part-time, adjunct and probationary); all administrators, including interim; all contract employees.
- Legitimate Educational Interest/Need to Know is identified as a College official who needs to review an education record in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities for SFCC.
- Medical Records According to FERPA guidelines, medical records are generally considered to be Education Records. However, a Medical Record is considered a Treatment Record if it meets the criteria in Definition 8. Treatment Records.
- Treatment Records According to FERPA, a medical record may be considered a treatment record and is not considered an education record. Unless noted otherwise by HIPPA, a treatment record must be: a. Directly related to a student who is 14 years or older and/or who is attending SFCC; b. Made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist or other recognized professional such as an SFCC licensed mental health counselor or paraprofessional acting in a professional capacity or assisting in a paraprofessional capacity; c. Made, maintained or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student and not available to anyone (including the student) other than persons providing such treatment (such as an SFCC licensed mental health counselor), except that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice.
- Students should have reasonable expectations that their records generally will not be shared or will be shared only in accordance with FERPA, and only to further important purposes, such as assuring campus safety.
- Transfer of Rights from Parent to Student. Rights under FERPA are transferred from a parent to a student when the student reaches the age of 18 or attends a postsecondary school. Thus, student records may not be released to a parent of a student over the age of 18 unless the student requests the release, or the student is a dependent of the parent under the Internal Revenue Code. If a parent wants to review the record of a dependent student, they must provide the College a copy of their most recent tax return listing the student as a dependent. The Registrar’s Office does not retain a copy of the tax return but reviews such documentation as evidence that the student is a dependent of the requesting parent.
- A student may sign a FERPA Authorization to Release Educational Records (available in the Registrar’s Office) to give the College permission to release non-directory information to parents, other family members, or other individuals of their choosing. The document is kept in the Registrar’s Office for other College officials to verify that they can provide non-directory information to the individual(s) the student has identified on the document. This authorization stays in effect until the student notifies the Registrar’s Office in writing they no longer want the individuals listed to have access to their records.
- Confidentiality Hold: A student may request that a confidentiality hold be placed on their record by providing a written request to the Registrar’s Office to place such a hold. The hold is in place until the student rescinds it in writing to the Registrar’s Office. When a confidentiality hold is in place, the College will not release any information (directory and/or non-directory) to any entities outside of the College, except as outlined in Policy Process J.
- The College will publish information about this policy in the College catalog and in the student handbook.
- Student Right to Review Records. Students have the right to inspect and review their records. Education records include:
- Correspondence with parents and others
- Participation in special programs
- Tuition and fees paid and outstanding
- Financial aid
- Job placement, and
- Academic awards or recognition.
- An employee who violates this policy may be subject to Policy 4-2 Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action, up to and including termination. The discipline imposed will depend on the severity of the violation and the circumstances of the situation.
- Review of records. Under FERPA, a parent or eligible student (i.e., a student who has reached 18 years of age or attends a postsecondary institution) generally must provide a signed and dated written consent before the agency or institution discloses personally identifiable information from the student’s records.
- Grades: If a student wants to review a grade, they may request that record from the Registrar’s Office. Students must present their student identification card or their A number and other photo identification. Grades may also be accessed through a student’s online account.
- Tuition and Fees: If a student wants to review or obtain a copy of their tuition bill, they must present their student identification card or their A number and other photo identification to the Cashier’s Office.
- Other Education Records: If a student wants to review any portion of their education record other than a grade or tuition bill, they should submit a written request to the Registrar’s Office. Forms for making this written request are found in the Registrar’s Office. Financial aid records should be obtained through the Financial Aid Office.
- If a particular record is requested and can be obtained immediately, a College employee will allow the student to review it. An employee must be present while the records are reviewed to explain the record and answer any questions the student has about the record. Records must be reviewed in an area that will protect the confidentiality of the records. No document may be removed from the file by the student, but a copy will be provided upon request.
- If a student requests an education record and it is not immediately available, the Registrar’s Office will provide the requested record to the student as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days.
- Limitations on Reviewing Records.
- The right to review education records does not extend to:
- Notes and records concerning a student made by a faculty or staff member that are retained and used solely by that faculty or staff member (or designee);
- Inspecting financial records of their parents that are maintained by the College or records created by Campus Safety and Security for law enforcement purposes.
- The release of information to a student when it is related to:
- A confidential recommendation that relates to admission to another educational institution;
- An application for employment; or
- A letter recommending an honor or honorary recognition, providing that the student has signed a waiver stating they are not entitled to access that information.
- The student is entitled to request and be notified of the name of the individual, the educational institution or other organization requesting the confidential recommendation.
- If an education record contains information about more than one student, the student only has the right to review that portion that relates to them.
- The right to review education records does not extend to:
- Education records are confidential and may not be released to anyone except the student without the prior written consent of the student except in limited circumstances contained in this policy or as required by law.
- FERPA does not require the student’s consent before an institution may disclose the student’s education records, including medical or treatment records, to appropriate parties if that student poses an articulable and significant threat to self or the health or safety of others. SFCC may disclose education records, including medical or treatment records, to any person (such as law enforcement and public health officials, trained medical personnel, parents) whose knowledge of information from those records will assist in protecting the student or others from the threat. SFCC will limit disclosure of such records to include only that which is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student or others.
- Treatment records, as defined by FERPA, are not considered education records and will not be shared under any FERPA exemptions. Once a treatment record has been shared in any capacity outside of those outlined in Definition 8. Treatment Records, item c, above (including giving it to the student), it will no longer fall under the treatment record exception and will be considered part of a student’s education record under FERPA. Limitations are defined in the SFCC Counseling Services Informed Consent Form.
- All grades and scores should be treated as confidential; exceptions to this are outlined in Policy 2-12 Procedures and must be disclosed in the course syllabus/outline. All graded papers and exams must be returned to students in a manner that preserves the confidentiality of the student and the grade to be retained. Faculty must not post grades with any potentially personally identifiable information such as name, social security number or student identification number.
- The College will not provide access to or release education information about a student to any individual, agency or organization without the prior written consent of the student except in certain, limited circumstances. Those exceptions are:
- Officials of other schools in which a student is seeking or intends to enroll;
- Other officials, such as state and federal officials of educational and funding agencies and law enforcement agencies, who have the right to obtain copies of student records, as provided by law;
- State and local authorities within a juvenile justice system who have the right to obtain copies of student records pursuant to state law;
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
- Officials conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies for the purposes of auditing or evaluating educational programs (provided the study is conducted in a manner that does not permit disclosure of personally identifiable information to third parties and any personally identifiable information is destroyed when no longer needed for the study);
- Accrediting organizations;
- Parents of students who are dependents under the Internal Revenue Code;
- To comply with a subpoena;
- Appropriate officials in cases of emergencies when it is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals; and
- College officials with a legitimate educational interest. Legitimate educational interests include:
- Providing academic, employment or other advice to students;
- Administering College programs;
- Creating and maintaining student records;
- Awarding and administering financial aid;
- Assessing and collecting fees;
- Enforcing student conduct and discipline;
- Representing the legal interest of the College in matters where a student record is relevant; and
- Research related to the educational programs of the College.
- If the College is required to release a student’s education record, it will:
- Indicate in the record, the individual, agency or organization that has requested the information,
- Specify the legitimate interest that the person or entity has in obtaining the information, and
- Include the date of the request and the date the information was released.
- Request to Amend a Record:
- If a student believes their education record is inaccurate, misleading or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights, they may request that the record be amended. This process does not apply to financial aid records.
- If a student believes that there are inaccuracies in the record, they should first contact the faculty member responsible for the grade (or SFCC employee responsible for the record) and request that they review the record and amend it. The student may request the assistance of their academic advisor. The responsible faculty member or staff member should advise the student in writing that they have adjusted the record or that they believe it is correct and the reasons for their decision within 10 calendar days of the student’s request.
- If the faculty member or staff member does not amend the record, the student may appeal the decision to the department chair. The request should be made in writing and describe the nature of the alleged inaccuracy or other violation of this policy and the remedy requested by the student. The department chair or appropriate SFCC employee will advise the student in writing that they have amended the record or that they believe it is correct and the reasons for their decision within 10 calendar days of the request.
- If the department denies the student’s request to amend the record, the student has the right to request a hearing on the matter. The student should contact the Registrar’s Office and submit a written request for a hearing. The hearing will follow the process described in SFCC Policy 2-3 Student Concerns and Complaints.
- If, after a hearing, the record is not amended as the student requests, the student may submit a statement to be included in their record stating they disagree with the decision not to amend the record and commenting on the information.
- The College will maintain electronically stored student files, transcripts, financial information and grade reports according to the Functional Records Retention and Disposal Schedule 1.21.2 NMAC administered by the Registrar.
- The College may destroy a student’s education or personal records any time after seven years after the last semester of attendance and in accordance with any record-retention laws. The College shall not destroy any education records if a request is outstanding to inspect or review the records.
- Transcripts are maintained for 100 years after the student’s date of birth.
Statement of Accountability and Responsibility
The President, through the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs with the Registrar, shall be responsible for enforcing student affairs-related policies and procedures. The Academic and Student Affairs Department shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention, and remediation.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99)
Functional Records Retention and Disposition Schedule. 1.21.2 NMAC
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
Joint Guidance on the Application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) And the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) To Student Health Records (Nov. 2008)
U.S. Department of Education Dear Colleague Letter to School Officials at Institutions of Higher Education (August 2016)
SFCC Policy 2-3 Student Concerns and Complaints
SFCC Policy 4-2 Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action
SFCC Counseling Services Informed Consent Form
SFCC Governing Board approved:12/13/2006
Revised and SFCC Governing Board approved: 2/20/2017
Revised and SFCC Governing Board approved: 8/28/2019