Ask the FERPA Professor

June 26, 2017
  • AACRAO Connect
  • FERPA
  • FERPA Professor

Hello FERPA Professor,

Our new faculty contracts begin on July 1, but departments and new faculty are pushing for access to their email, Canvas, and online rosters well before that. I’m specifically speaking about brand new faculty that have never worked at our institution before.

Is it violating FERPA to give them access before they are technically employed by the college? If they have access to their rosters, they can see everything about the students in their courses, including previous grades, cumulative GPA, and so on.

Thanks in advance for your help,

Leto Atreides

___________________________________________

Dear Leto,

You are correct to be concerned about providing access to student education records to individuals who do not meet the conditions found at §99.31(a)(1) of the FERPA regulations. Note in particular the conditions at §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B)(2) dealing with “Direct Control,” which would generally involve a contract:

(B) A Contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a school official under this paragraph provided that the outside party … (2) is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records.

You can find complete language regarding the conditions under which a disclosure to an outsourced entity is permitted under FERPA on page 159 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide, but the above cited section of the regulations is the most relevant to your particular concern. In short,  it would be an improper disclosure to release any student education records to these new faculty before the terms of a contract which establishes direct control by the institution become effective.

I hope this is helpful in addressing your concern.

The FERPA Professor

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