FERPA On-Line Tutorial

Certain types of information among the records an institution maintains about a student may be deemed under FERPA to be “directory information.” According to the law, directory information is information in an education record of a student that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information would typically include such information as a student’s name, major field of study, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports.

Under FERPA, an institution may disclose directory information if it has given public notice to eligible students of: the types of information it has designated as directory information, a student’s right to refuse to let the institution designate any of the information as directory information, and the period of time within which the student may notify the institution that they do not want particular types of information designated as directory information.

Consider this hypothetical situation.

In response to a request from a local newspaper reporter (who is writing a feature story on the surging popularity of backgammon), Tom — the faculty advisor to United State University’s backgammon club — was only too happy to provide to the reporter a student membership roster. One member — Larry — does not want it known that he belongs to the backgammon club, and is furious at Tom. When Larry enrolled at USU, he indicated on his student information form that he refused to authorize USU to release any directory information about him to a third party.

USU’s policies hold that student membership in college-sponsored organizations is directory information.

Does Tom’s disclosure of the club roster comply with FERPA?