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Office of Graduate Studies

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. §1232g, and the Texas Public
Information Act, Texas Government Code §552.001 et seq., are respectively federal and state laws that provide for the review and disclosure of student educational records.
In accordance with these laws, The University of Texas-Pan American has adopted the following policy. Individuals are informed of their rights under these laws through this policy, which is included in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOP), Section 5.2.3 and this catalog.

The catalog is available for inspection at http://www.utpa.edu/catalog/ and the Handbook of Operating Procedures is available at http://www.utpa.edu/hop.

The University will not permit access to or the release of personally identifiable information contained in student education records without the written consent of the student to any party, except as follows:

  1. To appropriate University officials who require access to educational records in order to perform their legitimate educational duties.
  2. To officials of other schools in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, is enrolled in or receives services from, upon request of these officials.
  3. To federal, state or local officials or agencies authorized by law.
  4. In connection with a student’s application for, or receipt of, financial aid.
  5. To accrediting organizations or organizations conducting educational studies, provided that these organizations do not release personally identifiable data and destroy such data when it is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was obtained.
  6. To the parents of a dependent student as defined in section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. This is for Financial Aid and Financial records only and does not include academic records.
  7. In compliance with a judicial order or subpoena provided a reasonable effort is made to notify the student in advance, unless such subpoena specifically directs the institution not to disclose the existence of a subpoena.
  8. In an emergency situation if the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.
  9. To an alleged victim of any crime of violence, the results of the alleged perpetrator’s disciplinary proceeding may be released.

Additionally, any law enforcement information provided by state law enforcement agencies concerning registered sex offenders may be released from the UT Pan American Police Department. The police department can be contacted at 956-665-7151.

The University will release information in student education records to appropriate University or University of Texas System officials as indicated in No. 1 above when there is a legitimate educational interest. A school official is a person employed by the University in an administrative, supervisory, academic or research, or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the University has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor or collection agent); a person serving on The University of Texas System Board of Regents; or a student serving on an official committee or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an educational record in order to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. Upon request, the University discloses education records without consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Where required by regulations, a record of requests for disclosure and such disclosure of personally identifiable information from student education records shall be maintained by the custodian of the public record for each student and will also be made available for inspection pursuant to this policy. If the University discovers that a third party who has received student records from the university has released or failed to destroy such records in violation of this policy, the university will determine any future access by that third party and may take further appropriate action. Respective records are no longer subject to audit nor presently under request for access may be purged according to regular schedules.

Directory Information

At its discretion, the University may release directory information which shall include:

  1. Name, address, telephone number
  2. Date and place of birth
  3. Major field of study
  4. Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  5. Dates of attendance
  6. Most recent previous educational institution attended
  7. Classification
  8. Degrees and awards received
  9. Date of graduation
  10. Physical factors (height and weight) of athletes
  11. Photographs
  12. University e-mail address

Students may have directory information withheld by notifying the Office of the Registrar in writing. Requests for nondisclosure will be honored by the institution until such time that the student grants permission, in writing, to release the information.

Access to File

Upon written request, the University shall provide a student with access to his or her educational records. The Vice President for Business Affairs at UT Pan American has been designated by the institution to coordinate the inspection and review procedures for student education records, which include admissions files, academic files and financial files. Students wishing to review their education records must make written requests to the Vice President for Business Affairs listing the item or items of interest. Education records covered by the Act will be made available within 45 days of the request.

A list of education records and those officials responsible for the records shall be maintained at the Office of the Vice President for Business Affairs. This list includes:

  • Academic Records
    • Office of Admissions and New Student Services: SSB 3.104
    • New Student Services: SS 1.109
    • Office of the Registrar: SSB 1.150
    • College, Division, Department and Faculty Offices: various locations on campus
  • Enrollment and Student Services/ Student Services Records
    • Counseling Services Office: Director, Rm #7
    • Learning Assistance Center, LAC 100
    • Student Services: Dean of Students Office, UC 104
    • Residence Life: Director, MRH
    • Career Placement Services: SSB, 2.101
  • Financial Records
            Business Office: Vice President for Business Affairs,
            SSB, 5.101
            Student Financial Services: Director, SSB 186

Educational records do not include:

  1. Financial records of the student’s parents or guardian.
  2. Confidential letters of recommendations that were placed in the educational records of a student prior to January 1, 1975.
  3. Records of instructional, administrative and educational personnel that are kept in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any other individual except a temporary substitute for the maker.
  4. Records of law enforcement units.
  5. Employment records related exclusively to an individual’s employment capacity.
  6. Medical and psychological records.
  7. Thesis or research papers.
  8. Records that only contain information about an individual after the individual is no longer a student at the institution.

Challenge to Record

Students may challenge the accuracy of their educational records. Students who believe that their educational records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or is otherwise in violation of their privacy or their rights, may discuss their problems informally with the department that generated the record in dispute. If an agreement is reached with respect to the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended. If an agreement is not reached, the student will be notified within a reasonable period of time that the records will not be amended, and he or she will be informed by the head of that department of his or her right to a formal hearing.

Students’ requests for a formal hearing must be made in writing to the Vice President for Business Affairs who, within a reasonable period of time after receiving such requests, will inform students of the date, place and the time of the hearing. Students may present evidence relevant to the issues raised and may be assisted or represented at the hearings by one or more persons of their choice, including attorneys, at the student’s expense. The hearing officer who will adjudicate such challenges will be appointed by the vice president for Business Affairs in non-academic matters and by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs in academic matters.

Decisions of the hearing officer will be final, will be based solely on the evidence presented at the hearing, consist of the written statements summarizing the evidence and stating the reasons for the decisions, and will be delivered to all parties concerned. The education records will be corrected or amended in accordance with the decision of the hearing officer, if the decision is in favor of the student. If the decision is unsatisfactory to the student, the student may place with the education records statements commenting on the information in the records or statements setting forth any reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the hearing officer, or both.

The statements will be placed in the education records, maintained as part of the student’s records and released whenever the records in question are disclosed.

Students who believe that the adjudications of their challenges were unfair or not in keeping with the provisions of the Act may request, in writing, assistance from the president of the University.

Copies

Students may have copies of their educational records and this policy. These copies will be made at the student’s expense at rates authorized in the Texas Public Information Act. (There is no charge for student transcripts.) Official copies of academic records or transcripts will not be released for students who have a delinquent financial obligation or financial “hold” at the University.

Complaints

Complaints regarding alleged failures to comply with the provisions of the FERPA may be submitted in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-4605.