Creating, Maintaining, and Protecting Student Records: FERPA & Related Requirements

Event ID:15418

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Download (DL)     $349.00 includes recorded presentation, slides, and Q&A
Duration: 90 minutes including question and answer session.
Presenter(s): James Ottavio Castagnera, Ph.D. and attorney at law
Price: $349.00, DL includes full audio presentation, question and answer session, and presentation slides. DL subject to a $5.95 handling charge.
Who Should Attend? College and university administrators, persons making or approving decisions on course materials and supplemental materials, library administrators, materials selection committee members, attorneys representing colleges and universities, compliance personnel
Best For: Higher education

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) governs disclosure of student records and information. If any faculty member, administrator, department, or office maintains records on a student, those records are educational records and must comply with the laws and regulations under FERPA. Often, college and university faculty and administrators are not familiar with the requirements of this and other related laws that demand such records and information to remain confidential except in limited circumstances. Complicating the issue, since the 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech, the U.S. Department of Education has actively encouraged university faculty and staff to share information about their students, especially where a student appears to present a threat to himself or others in the campus community.

Education records include a range of information about students that is maintained by colleges and universities in any recorded way, from handwritten all the way to online and everything between. Examples of the types of information FERPA covers include: test results and grades, personal information, health related information, pictures, videos, and disciplinary action. And as comprehensive as the list may seem, it’s not all-inclusive, and for that matter provides little insight into the types of records that are not considered educational records. Personal notes made by teachers and other school officials that are not shared with others are not considered education records. Additionally, law enforcement records created and maintained by a school or district's law enforcement unit are also not education records. Between what clearly is and clearly is not an education record lies a gray area fraught with mines.

As central as FERPA is to the realm of student records, it still is only one of many laws of which administrators must be aware. While parents and students have no private right of action under FERPA, state personal injury law - notably defamation and invasion of privacy - more than adequately fills that gap. In our litigious society, parents and students may be ready to sue, when accusations of sexual assault or harassment, academic integrity, mental and psychological disabilities, or drug and alcohol abuse are at issue. Accurate records of internal institutional proceedings regarding any of these volatile issues may mean the difference between a successful defense and a seven-figure jury verdict.

Students and their records can also be caught up in issues involving faculty and staff. In one current California case the plaintiff, a former faculty member denied tenure, is seeking access to student evaluations of her classes and those of former colleagues who were granted tenure. In an ongoing New Jersey case, a terminated coach has asked the labor arbitrator assigned to her grievance to exclude from the case unfavorable exit interviews of her graduating-senior athletes. These are just two examples in which legal forums are struggling to balance students’ privacy rights with the rights of litigants to have their “day in court.” Last, but not least, universities’ growing use of social media creates fresh opportunities to run afoul of FERPA.

Mishandling of student records may also lead to complaints to the Department of Education, and such violations of FERPA can lead administrative sanctions, the most extreme being loss of federal funding. When it comes to handling student records properly there is obviously much uncertainty coupled with the potential risks associated with getting it wrong. Please join Dr. James Ottavio Castagnera, attorney at law, as he takes you step-by-step through the underlying case law and offers school administrators practical step-by-step guidance for navigating this sensitive area of the law and avoiding allegations of impropriety.


Just a sampling of what this webinar will cover:

  • What are and are not student records under FERPA
  • When parents and students can and cannot access their records
  • When you shouldn’t, and when you absolutely should, share student records with colleagues
  • What training you should offer/require for administrators, faculty and staff
  • What actions you should take when a FERPA violation comes to your attention
  • How to protect yourself and your institution from defamation and invasion of privacy suits
  • How to balance confidentiality and due-process rights
  • What are best practices and legal requirements with regard to maintaining and destroying student records
  • Review how directory information differs from an education record.
  • Get practical step-by-step guidance for handling specific types of records and requests for records
  • Review the process for amending education records


Your conference leader for “Creating, Maintaining, and Protecting Student Records: FERPA & Related Requirements” is Dr. James Ottavio Castagnera.

Your conference leader for “Creating, Maintaining, and Protecting Student Records: FERPA & Related Requirements” is Dr. James Ottavio Castagnera. Dr. Castagnera holds a JD and a PhD from Case Western Reserve University. He was a labor/employment and IP lawyer with a major Philadelphia law firm for a decade before becoming legal counsel at a New Jersey university. For the past 22 years in that capacity, his duties have included drafting, reviewing and enforcing labor and employment contracts; internship, affiliation and student-exchange agreements; government grants and contracts, and international memorandums of understanding. He also is an adjunct professor of law in the Drexel University School of Law, and the principal consultant/co-owner of Holland Media Services, LLC. He has published 21 books, most recently Riding the Fifth Wave in Higher Education: A Survival Guide for the New Normal (NY: Peter Lang 2017). QUALITY COMMITMENT

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