C1: Compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (the "Buckley Amendment")

Responsibility for Maintenance: Registration and Records

Date of most recent changes: June 26, 2023

I. Policy Statement  

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their Education Records. They include:

  • The right to inspect and review their own Education Records;
  • The right to request amendment of their own Education Records;
  • The right to consent to disclosure of information from their Education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent; and
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with FERPA.

II. Reason for Policy  

The College is required to comply with its obligations under FERPA, including the obligation to advise students of their rights under FERPA.

III. Applicability of the Policy  

This policy applies to all departments of the College that maintain Education Records. As described below, protected “Education Records” include most personally identifiable information pertaining to a student; accordingly, this policy should be reviewed by all College personnel having custody of, or responsibility for, student information.

Students should familiarize themselves with this policy in order to ensure that they are aware of their rights under FERPA.

IV. Related Documents  

  • A student can grant/manage access to information to a proxy/parent on MyOCC (available on the student website).

V. Contacts  

Subject Office Name Title or Position Telephone Number Email/URL
  Department with custody of  
relevant records
  Registration and Records Office Director of Registration and Records (315) 498- 2350 registrar@sunyocc.edu  


VI. Definitions  

Term Definition
College Official See Item VII, below.
  See Item VII, below.
Education Record Any record, in whatever medium, which contains information directly related to an identifiable student. Education Records do not, however, include records of instructional, administrative and educational personnel which are in the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute; records of the Public Safety Department; student health records; employment records; alumni records pertaining to the period after the student ceased to be enrolled at the College; or grades on peer-graded work before they are collected and recorded by the instructor.
FERPA The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
See Item VII, below.


VII. Procedures  

Right to Inspect and Review Education Records. A student has the right to inspect and review their Education Records within 45 days after the day the College receives their request for access. The department head will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and the place where the records may be inspected. If the records are not maintained by the department to which the request was submitted, the department head should advise the student of the correct department to which the request should be addressed. A student can also submit a request for a proxy to gain access to their records through MyOCC.

Right to Request the Amendment of Education Records. A student has the right to request the amendment of their Education Records that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy rights. The student should write to the head of the department responsible for the record, clearly identify the part of the record they want changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If the College decides not to amend the record as requested by the student, the College will notify the student of the decision and advise the student of their right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to the student when they are notified of the right to a hearing.

Right to Consent to Disclosure of Personally Identifiable Education Record Information. A student has the right to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information contained in his or her Education Records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent. Among the FERPA provisions authorizing disclosure without consent are the following:

College Officials  

One exception which permits disclosures without consent is disclosure to College Officials with Legitimate Educational Interests. A “College Official” is a person employed by the College in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position (including law enforcement unit personnel and health staff); a person or company with whom the College has contracted (such as an attorney, auditor, or collection agent); a person serving on the Board of Trustees; a student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another College Official in performing his or her tasks; or a person volunteering or otherwise performing services for the College. A contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom the College has outsourced institutional services or functions may be considered a College Official under this exception only if they perform an institutional service or function for which the College would otherwise use employees, is under the direct control of the College with respect to the use and maintenance of Education Records, and agrees to use the Education Records only for the purposes for which they were disclosed.

A College Official has a “Legitimate Educational Interest” if they need to review an Education Record in order to (a) perform a task specific to their job description or their contractual or volunteer duties to the College, (b) perform a task related to the student’s education (including without limitation discipline of the student), or (c) provide a service or benefit relating to the student or the student’s family.

Emergency Situations  

A second exception permits disclosures of Education Records without consent if the College determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of the student to whom the Education Records pertain or other individuals, but only to those persons whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals (the threat and the parties to whom the information was disclosed must be documented).

Directory Information  

Another exception which permits disclosures without consent is disclosure of “Directory Information.”1 Directory Information at Onondaga Community College is defined as: the student’s name, address, telephone listing, electronic mail address, photograph, date and place of birth, major field of study, grade level, enrollment status, dates of attendance; participation in officially recognized activities and sports; weight and height of members of athletic teams; degrees, honors, and awards received; and the most recent educational agency or institution attended. Directory Information does not include a student’s social security number, a student ID number, user ID, or other unique personal identifier used by the student for purposes of accessing or communicating in electronic systems only if the identifier cannot be used to gain access to Education Records except when used in conjunction with one or more factors that authenticate the user's identity, such as a personal identification number (PIN), password, or other factor known or possessed only by the authorized user.

A student has the right to withhold the public release of any or all Directory Information directly pertaining to him or her by giving notice to the Office of Registration and Records. Such notice must be received in the Registration and Records Office at least 10 days prior to the first day of the term for which the request is first to be effective, and except as described below will become effective on the first day of that term. Elections to withhold release of Directory Information will remain effective until revoked by the student by subsequent direction to the Registration and Records Office. Because certain Directory Information is distributed by the College in pre-printed materials, Directory Information may continue to be included in materials printed prior to the effective date of the election, but the student’s election will be effective for materials printed after the effective date and for online and other disclosures from and after the effective date.

Disclosures to Other Schools  

Upon request, the College also discloses Education Records without student consent to officials of another school in which a student is enrolled or seeks or intends to enroll, for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer.

Right to File a Complaint with the Education Department. A student who believes that their rights under FERPA and this policy have been violated may file a complaint with the Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-5920.

Confidentiality Precautions. College personnel may not disclose Education Record information except as permitted by FERPA and this policy, and are expected to take precautions to prevent impermissible disclosures. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • All documents containing personally identifiable information on students must be shredded before disposition. These include (among other things) class lists, student folders, grade sheets and transcripts. Do not send this material to be recycled prior to shredding.
  • Grades may not be posted on office doors using student social security numbers. Social security numbers are considered personally identifiable information and are, therefore, confidential.
  • College personnel should consult with the Registration and Records Office in the event that they are uncertain as to whether Education Record information may be disclosed in particular circumstances.

Record-keeping Obligations. Persons who release Education Record information on behalf of the College must maintain a record of all requests for and/or releases of this information. The record will indicate the name of the party making the request, any additional party to whom it may be re-released, and the legitimate interest the party had in requesting or obtaining the information. The student may inspect this record of requests. The requirements of this paragraph do not apply to disclosures to (a) the student, (b) a College Official, (c) any party with the student’s written consent, (d) a party seeking Directory Information, or (e) a party receiving the information pursuant to a law enforcement subpoena if the issuing court/agency has ordered that the existence or contents of the subpoena, or the information furnished in response to the subpoena, not be disclosed.

Restrictions on Re-disclosure. Persons who release Education Record information on behalf of the College must inform the recipient that the disclosure is subject to the condition that the recipient not disclose the information to any other party without the prior consent of the student. The requirements of this paragraph do not apply to disclosures (a) to the student, (c) to a College Official, (d) to a party seeking Directory Information, (e) to a party receiving the information pursuant to a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena, (f) of certain information regarding student disciplinary proceedings as expressly permitted by FERPA, (g) to parties otherwise authorized to receive the information pursuant to FERPA without the student’s consent, provided that the parameters of permissible re-disclosure have been established and documented prior to the initial disclosure, or (h) of information provided to the College pursuant to federal law concerning sex offenders and other individuals required to register under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (also known as the Wetterling Act).

VIII. Forms/Online Processes 

1 FERPA does not mandate the disclosure of Directory Information to anyone, but simply allows the College to make such disclosures in the absence of a student's election to opt out using the procedure described in this Policy.

Approved by OCC Board of Trustees April 3, 2006

Updated and approved by the President May 5, 2009

Updated and approved by the President March 28, 2016

Updated and approved by the President June 26, 2023