It’s FERPA but …

April 21, 2020
Office of Legal Affairs
It’s FERPA but …


This article is the second part of a two-part series.  The first article, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not FERPA,” discussed what is and what is not an Education Record subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  The first article also outlined the procedures for reporting an alleged FERPA violation.  This article will summarize all the exceptions to the general rule that the University will not disclose a FERPA-protected Education Record to a third party without the student’s consent.

At UTSA, there are fifteen exceptions that allow disclosure to third parties without the student’s consent as follows:

  1. University Officials with a Legitimate Educational Interest in an Education Record. These persons may access Educations Records without prior consent: Anyone employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic, or support staff position, including law enforcement unit and health staff; a person or company with whom the University has an affiliation or contract (such as a UT System attorney or auditor, or a clinical facility where a student is participating in an internship); the University of Texas System Board of Regents; a person employed by System Administration; or a person assisting another University Official in performing his or her tasks (such as a volunteer or committee member), if that person or contractor requires access to an Education Record in order to fulfill his or her official responsibilities on behalf of the University.
  2. Other Institutions. The University may release a Student's Education Records to officials of other educational institutions in which that Student seeks or intends to enroll or is enrolled.
  3. Audit or Evaluation of Federal or State education programs. The University of Texas System Board of Regents, authorized representatives of the Comptroller General of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the United States Secretary of Education and state and local educational authorities who are authorized by law to audit and evaluate a Federal or State supported education program, or to enforce Federal law which relates to such education programs, or their authorized representatives may access an Education Record as required for the audit, evaluation or enforcement purposes.
  4. Financial Aid. The University may release an Education Record to persons or organizations in connection with that student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid to the extent necessary for such purposes as determining eligibility, amount, conditions, and enforcement of terms or conditions of such financial aid.
  5. State and Local Officials Pursuant to Statutes Concerning Juvenile Justice. The University may release Education Records to state and local officials that are authorized by statute to access Student Education Records to efficiently serve the Student.
  6. Organizations Conducting Studies. Disclosures without prior consent may be made to any type of organization conducting studies for, or on behalf of the University, for the purpose of developing, validating, or administering predictive administering student aid programs, and improving instruction provided that the study is conducted in a manner which will not permit the personal identification of Students and/or their parents by individuals other than representatives of the organization; and the information will be destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which the study was conducted.
  7. Accrediting Organizations. Accrediting organizations may access an Education Record required to carry out their accrediting functions.
  8. Parents of a Tax Dependent. A parent of a Student who is a dependent for federal tax purposes, as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, may access the Student's Education Records without the Student’s prior consent.
  9. Judicial Order or Subpoena. Information concerning a Student shall be released without prior consent in response to a judicial order, lawfully issued subpoena or an ex parte order from the U.S. Attorney General. However, the University must make reasonable efforts to notify the Student of an order or subpoena before complying with it, except that the University shall not notify a student of a subpoena if it is from a Federal Grand Jury or is for law enforcement purposes, and the subpoena or order provides that the University shall not disclose to any person the existence or contents of the subpoena or any information furnished in response to the subpoena.
  10. Directory Information. This is personally identifiable information that is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed without prior consent so long as the Student has not opted out of this information. Directory Information includes a student’s name; local and permanent postal addresses; email address; telephone number; place of birth; field of study; dates of attendance; date of graduation; enrollment status; student classification (example: freshman, first year law school student); degrees awarded; certificates and awards (including scholarships) received; photographs; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; and most recent previous educational agency or institution attended. You must check first with the Registrar to determine whether the Student has opted out of this information before releasing it.
  11. Health and Safety. The University may disclose student information deemed by the University as appropriate to persons in connection with an emergency in order to protect the health and safety of the Student or other individuals.
  12. Disciplinary Hearing Results. (a) Disclosure to Victims. The University may disclose to an alleged victim of any crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense (as those terms are defined in 34 C.F.R. 99.39), the final results of any disciplinary proceeding conducted by the University against the alleged perpetrator of such crime or offense with respect to such crime or offense, regardless of whether the alleged perpetrator was found responsible for violating the University's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense. (b) Disclosure to Third Parties. The University may disclose the final results of any disciplinary proceeding against a Student who is an alleged perpetrator of any crime of violence or non-forcible sex offense (as those terms are defined in 34 C.F.R. 99.39), if the Student is found responsible for violating the University's rules or policies with respect to such crime or offense. Such disclosure shall include only the name of the Student, the violation committed, and any sanction imposed by the University on that Student. Such disclosure may include the name of any other Student, such as a victim or witness, only with the written Consent of that other Student.
  13. Alcohol and Drug Violations. The University may disclose to a parent or legal guardian of a Student, information regarding any violation of any Federal, State, or local law, or of any rule or policy of the University, governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance, regardless of whether that information is contained in the Student's Education Records, if the Student is under the age of 21 at the time of disclosure to the parent, and the University determines that the Student is responsible for a disciplinary violation with respect to such use or possession.
  14. Defense of Litigation or Complaints against the University. If a Student initiates legal action against the University, the University may disclose to the State Attorney General and the court or agency with jurisdiction over the complaint, without a court order or subpoena, the Student's Education Records that are relevant for the University to defend itself.
  15. Status as a Registered Sex Offender. The University may disclose information concerning a Student’s status as a sex offender or other individual required to register under section 170101 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. 14071, and the information was provided to the University under 42 U.S.C. 14071 and applicable Federal guidelines.

- Sandra J. Garcia

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only, and not to provide legal advice or opinions.  Please contact the Office of Legal Affairs (210-458-4105) to obtain legal counsel on any particular university issue or matter.