By Veronikha Salazar, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah, Ga.
Something I appreciate about our Hispanic Culture is the fact that we like to get involved in our children’s school lives. When children are in elementary or high school, parents or a legal guardian can pretty much find out everything about his/her child. They have the right to know. It is great and something I applaud; but, when those kids go to college it is a little tricky to do just that. It is then when FERPA rights are transferred to the student who is or has been in attendance at a higher education institution; regardless of the student’s age.
I had a Hispanic student in college whose mom used to call me pretty often for she wanted to know how her son was doing in school. I love the fact she wanted to know, she wanted to get involved in his child’s education; like she has always had. But, I disliked the fact that I could not tell her anything. This was due to the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).
This federal law, which has been in existence since 1974, is the reason why parents can not and will not be able to request information about their children in college. It is a law that protects the rights of students. It also ensures the privacy and accuracy of education records. This law guarantees the following to every single student:
• Inspect and Review their Education records at a given institution
• Seek to amend their education records when there has been a legitimate error recorded by an educational institution
• Have some control over the release of information from their education records to anybody other than himself or herself
• File a complaint with FERPA office in Washington if his rights have been violated
But, since most of the parents are the ones paying for his/her child’s education, there must be some right to know how their children are performing in college, right? No, not really. Any requested information including items such as the student's name, names of family members, personal identifiers (i.e. social security numbers, student ID number) and personal characteristics or other information (i.e. mail address, cell phone number, email address, enrollment status, major fields of study, grades, class schedule including dates, times places and names of classes instructors, expected graduation date, etc) that make the student's identity easily traceable can not be disclosed to anybody. Parents, however, may obtain some information with a signed consent from their child. Without a written consent, a higher education institution will not release any information to parents.
An exception where a written consent is not needed from the student for the release of some information is if such information is needed by some university administrators, faculty members, or staff members who require access to a student’s educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties.
So while you are thinking about calling the university or community college where your child is attending to find out about your child’s grades for the current semester, Do NOT! But, if you still call, then do not be upset if you get an answer like “We can not provide any information about your child due to FERPA” ; for you now know it is true.
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 912-445-0226. I would love to answer some of your questions!