All university faculty are considered school officials and are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of student records. Any school official who maintains specific records is considered a record custodian. The Office of the University Registrar is the official custodian for academic records.
The release of any nondirectory information about a student to any person outside the university community or to any university personnel without a legitimate educational interest violates federal and state law, as well as university regulations.
FERPA violations may result in the loss of federal funding for the university. Any breach of confidentiality could lead to disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination of employment.
All employees within the Office of the University Registrar who work with student records must sign the Confidentiality of Student Records statement. This document explains that academic records may only be disclosed to or discussed with individuals with legitimate educational interest. After signing this statement, it becomes part of the employee's file.
All university offices should consider developing a procedure for handling confidential academic records and ensuring that all staff are educated in these procedures.
Faculty may access a student’s record only in their capacity as the student’s advisor. At Mason, faculty may not access the academic records of students in their classes.
Once you have determined students’ final grades, enter them immediately using Patriot Web. Your deadline is 48 hours after the scheduled final examination period for the class (see Schedule of Classes). Instruct students to check their grades by accessing their transcript on Patriot Web.
Graded work during the semester must be returned personally to the student. Do not leave a stack of graded work for the class and expect students to retrieve their own; this would violate their right to privacy.
All faculty must utilize reasonable measures to preserve the confidentiality, security and integrity of the George Mason University information systems and the information contained therein. All teaching staff should practice appropriate security measures:
Never disclose, share or loan your username(s) and password(s) to anyone (e.g., another employee, faculty member, supervisor, student assistant, etc.). Department staff or supervising faculty should obtain individual log-on information for graduate/teaching assistants.
Ensure that remote access to, retrieval and transmission of confidential academic record information is accomplished through a secure and encrypted connection.
In addition, faculty should take reasonable measures to restrict unauthorized persons from viewing confidential academic record information. For example, you should:
Never leave your computer workstation unattended while signed on without appropriate screen locking (e.g., a password-protected screen saver).
Never leave personal logon information (e.g., username, password, network mapping, etc.) in view of unauthorized persons.
Never program (or ‘hot-key’) automatic access to confidential academic record systems.
You may share graded papers and exams only with the student, with others upon receiving the student's consent or with university officials in performance of official duties. Student papers or exams should not be left outside an office door where students must look through all the papers to find their own; students should not have access to other students' grades. While you may return papers and/or examinations by mail, the safest practice is to return papers personally to the student.
Faculty should discuss a student’s academic record only with that student or with university employees in the performance of official duties.
Important note: The above information has been developed by the Office of the University Registrar to give general information about FERPA and to acquaint students, parents, faculty and staff with some of the privacy issues surrounding students' educational records. It is not intended as nor is it a substitute for legal advice on any particular issue. Please contact the Office of University Counsel with any questions regarding FERPA at 703-993-2619.