Security of Data

  • Storing of student record data on your desktop requires that you assure that your computer has the most current security software. Of special concern is utilization of Windows 95/98.
  • It is important that you visit the website (www.security.vt.edu) to obtain critical information on University policy and guidelines regarding securing your computer. Also available are consulting resources to assure your computer is compliant with current security measures.
  • You may also contact Randy Marchany (marchany@vt.edu), University Information Technology Security Officer, for more information.
  • Identity Theft grows more prevalent each day. Just as you hope that institutions take care in the security of your data, use similar care in the storage of student record data used to support your job responsibilities.

Good record-keeping practice by faculty and staff require that student academic record information be maintained and disclosed based on FERPA guidelines. 

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (U.S. Public Law 93-579), FERPA, guarantees individuals' rights to the access of their educational [academic] record.
  • This law also provides guidelines as to third party access and the appropriate security of the education record.
  • Students have the right to:
    • inspect and review their educational records
    • control disclosure (designate confidentiality)
    • request amendment to the educational record.

 The Education Record at Virginia Tech as defined is any portion of the academic record [paper, electronic or other mediums] that is maintained by the University for the purpose of sharing [or has the potential of sharing] by other educational officials. 

  • Typical examples are the academic folder maintained in a department or university administrative office.
  • Sole Possession Records are defined as any record [e.g., notes maintained by only by the faculty member regarding his or her students] that is not shared with any other educational official.
  • Notes retained in the sole possession record are not subject to the guarantees of FERPA.
  • Educational officials are defined as those persons employed by Virginia Tech in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or other support staff position with a legitimate educational interest to view student records.

 FERPA requires that educational officials have an educational interest prior to granting of access to the student record. 

  • As instructors, you have an educational right to know directory information regardless of the stated confidentiality of the record. Examples of directory information include name, address, and telephone number. A full list of directory information items can be found on our Confidentiality of Student Records (FERPA) page.
  • Your roster will reflect any student who has marked their record confidential. You may not release any directory information to third parties if the record is confidential.
  • Instructional class rosters have an option to display Hokie Passport photos of the students enrolled in the course.  Student photographs are provided for instructional use only.  The photographs are protected by FERPA guidelines and may not be reproduced, downloaded, or copied to other venues, such as class websites, etc.
  • Educational interest does not extend to access of the entire academic record (e.g., all grades earned at Virginia Tech) unless your role is that of an advisor for that student.

Disclosure of Academic Records without Consent: 

  • Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies;
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued supoena.

Some practical reminders include:

  • Do refer requests for information on the academic record of a student to an appropriate academic record official. If you have any questions relative to the appropriateness of releasing information, contact the University Registrar, 231-7951.
  • Do keep only those individual records necessary for the fulfillment of your teaching or advising responsibilities. Private notes concerning your interaction with a student should not be part of the academic record and should be kept separate (see, "sole possession records").
  • Do not display student scores or grades publicly in association with any portion of the student name or the student identification number. See "Posting of Grades" for choices available in communicating grades.
  • Do not put papers or lab reports containing student names and grades in a publicly accessible place (e.g, hallway). Students may not have access to the scores and grades of others.
  • Do not request academic record information from the department or university record custodians unless you have a legitimate education need to know the specific information.
  • Do not share academic record information from a student's record with third parties, including parents, spouses, colleagues, without the written permission of the student.