Confidentiality of Student Records
It is the policy of Southwest to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the "Buckley Amendment," and all provisions and amendments thereto. In so doing, the College will protect the confidentiality of students and former students' records.
Each faculty and staff member of the College is individually responsible for complying with FERPA, and violations of the Act will subject the employee to disciplinary actions. Except for authorized administrative units that have responsibility for maintaining student records, no unit, component, staff or faculty member may disclose personally identifiable information.
FERPA covers all records that are directly related to a student and maintained by Southwest. Student includes current and former students but does not include applicants for admission who have never attended the College. FERPA does not cover:
- personal records of college personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker thereof and which are not revealed to any other individual with the exception of a temporary substitute
- records of the Security Department which are maintained apart from other student records, are used solely for the purpose of law enforcement and are not disclosed to anyone other than law enforcement officials of the same jurisdiction, and when other educational records are not disclosed to Security Department personnel
- employment records made and maintained in the normal course of business, related exclusively to an individual, in that individual's capacity as an employee which are not available for use for any other purpose
- records related to medical or psychiatric treatment of a student age 18 or older if only used in connection with treatment and disclosed only to persons providing treatment
- records that only contain information about an individual after he or she is no longer a student at the College
The institution reserves the right to disclose directory information. Directory information may be released without the student's consent. Any student who does not want the following directory information disclosed, must contact the Records Office and submit it to the Admissions and Records Office. The following information is considered directory information at Southwest:
- Telephone number
- Major field of study
- Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
- Weight and height of athletic team members, sports statistics
- Dates of college attendance
- Degrees, certificates and/or awards received
- Other institutions previously attended
The College will also disclose information to the military as required by the Solomon Amendments unless the student has contacted the Records Office. Except as is otherwise provided by this policy, all personally identifiable records directly related to a student or former student shall be kept confidential unless the student signs a consent form authorizing the release of such records, or as otherwise provided by law.
Student records may be disclosed in the following situations without the consent of the student:
- Emergency Situations – Should a threat to the safety or health of a student exist and it becomes necessary to disclose information without the consent of the student, needed information will be disclosed to persons who can render assistance.
- Officials of the Institution and General Counsel for the Institution – Student records will be made available to officials of the Institution and to General Counsel for the institution on a genuine need to know basis. Officials in this instance will include those persons officially authorized to operate on behalf of the institution (volunteer coaches, advisors to organizations/groups, academic advisory committee members, etc.), auditors, and persons on the College's payroll. The genuine need to know shall be based on a legitimate educational interest, which stems from the fulfillment of assigned responsibilities. Further, information will be limited to only that needed to fulfill those responsibilities.
- Pursuant to a Subpoena – Upon receipt of a lawfully issued subpoena or judicial order, the institution shall examine the subpoena or order to verify that it has been executed by an officer of the court or other authorized official. (The Office of General Counsel for the Tennessee Board of Regents may be contacted for assistance and verification.) Prior to releasing the student's records, the institution will make a reasonable attempt to notify the student of its intent to comply. Oral notifications will be followed by written confirmations that shall be maintained along with a copy of the subpoena and record of the disclosure.
- Parents of Dependent Students – The institution reserves the right to disclose student records to parents of dependent students as defined in Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Officials of Other Schools/School Systems – The institution reserves the right to disclose student records to officials of other schools or school systems in which the student is enrolled or seeks to be enrolled. Copies of the records transferred will be provided to the student upon request. Additionally, all rights of the student to have the record amended will be sustained.
- Parents or legal guardians of students under the age of 21 may be contacted regarding the student's violation of drug or alcohol laws and rules.
- Exceptions – Other disclosures made without the student’s written consent are narrow in scope according to the Act and will be made, most often, with the advice of General Counsel.
A record of requests for disclosures made will be retained with the record and may be inspected by the student, officials responsible for the records and by auditors. The institution will comply with student requests to inspect or review their educational records and will provide an explanation or interpretation of the records. The institution will also comply with student requests for copies of the records. The requests will be honored in a timely manner not to exceed 45 days from the request date. Exceptions to student access rights include:
- records which contain information about more than one student
- financial records or statements of his/her parents and any information contained therein
- confidential statements of recommendation solicited with written assurance of confidentiality and used only for the purposes intended which were placed in the file prior to January 1, 1975
- confidential statements of recommendation placed in the file after January 1, 1975, when the student signed a written consent waiving his/her rights to review or inspect the statement; and the recommendation is concerning admission to an educational institution, an application for employment, or the receipt of an honor or honorary recognition; and the recommendations received under the waiver are only used for the purposes designed on the waiver.
Each student has the right to request an amendment to his/her record if it is felt that the record is inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of his/her rights with any supporting documentation to the individual responsible for the record. The form must be signed and dated by the student. The student will receive a signed copy of the form indicating approval or denial of the request within 45 days of the request date. In cases of denial, the student may follow hearing procedures printed on the Record Amendment Request form. The Record Amendment Request form is limited to the issues of whether the record is accurate or misleading in recording the underlying action taken by the institution or whether the placement of the information in the student's record is in violation of the student’s rights. In cases of denial which proceed through the appeals process, the student shall have the right to place a statement in the file commenting on the information in the file and setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision. In these cases, the College will maintain the statement with the record and will send it out to everyone who receives a copy of the record.
Any violations of FERPA, shall be reported to the Dean of Student Services and Enrollment Management at Southwest. In cases where the accused is the Dean of Student Services and Enrollment Management, the report shall be made to the Provost/Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. Further, complaints of violations by the institution, may be filed with the Office of the Secretary, United States Department of Education.