Policy 551 Confidentiality of Records
Privacy Laws vs. Right to Know
CONFIDENTIALITY is a critical issue at a university because of the many private records with which we work. We wish to protect the rights of privacy for both legal and ethical reasons.
(Government Records and Management Act): Provides guidelines for satisfying the public’s right to access information concerning the conduct of the public’s business and the right of privacy in relation to personal data gathered by government entities.
(Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): guarantees confidentiality of information in a student’s education record that is not classified as "open directory".
RECORDS ARE CLASSIFIED IN FIVE BASIC CATEGORIES (The various lengths of time that specific records are to be kept are dictated by law.):
- PUBLIC: All records held by a government entity are "Public" unless they fall within one of the following four categories:
- PRIVATE: Records about individuals that contain personal information such as medical, personal financial, grades, home addresses, and personal communications. Private records are ordinarily available only to the subject of the record, administrators of the records, select government agencies, and to persons with written permission from the subject.
- PROTECTED: Records that may be kept confidential to protect various interests, including business interests, in the case of information that would give competitors an advantage, and the public interest, in the case of information that would assist others in gaining an unfair advantage. Protected records are ordinarily available only to the persons who submitted the records, to those who have written permission from submittees and to the government administration.
- CONTROLLED: If a government entity reasonably believes that release of a medical, psychiatric, or psychological record to the individual who is the subject of that record would be detrimental to the subject’s mental health or to the safety of any individual or would violate normal professional practice and medical ethics, the record may be classified as "controlled". Controlled records ordinarily may be released only to a physician, psychologist, or social worker with a release from the subject, and that person may not disclose the information to the subject.
- LIMITED (by statute): Access to some government records is controlled by the specific law that authorizes or requires the keeping of the record. (For example: Medicaid statutes, regulations on financial aid records, FERPA) If there is an applicable statute, federal regulation, or court rule, GRAMA only applies to the extent that it does not conflict with that statute, regulation, or rule.
STUDENT INFORMATION WHICH IS PUBLIC (unless a request to hold directory information while enrolled is made by the student): "Open Directory" Information: Student’s full name, address, E-mail, telephone listings, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, photograph, weight and height if a member of an athletic team, dates of attendance, and classification. Other private information is not to be disclosed without written permission by the student. Exceptions are release of information to parents of dependents, upon completion of affidavits of dependency, and to government and educational agencies.
EMPLOYEE INFORMATION WHICH IS PUBLIC: Full name, campus address and telephone listing, job title, job description, salary, and start date of employment. Private information such as home addresses, telephone listings, private financial and medical records are not to be disclosed without written permission from the employee. Employees have the right to access their own personnel files.