Legislation protects students’ privacy

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    As the semester comes to an end, the release of final grade reports gets closer, leaving some parents curious about the academic performance of their students.

    However, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act “provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of student education records,” according to the university registrar’s office website.

    History professor Kenneth Stevens said he has received several calls from students’ parents asking if their students were attending class, earning good grades or rebelling in class. He also received calls at the end of semesters after submitting final grades, he said.

    Stevens said he felt bad for the parents calling him because he thought students should be communicating with their parents about their academic performance. However, FERPA prevented Stevens from revealing information about the grades.

    Michael Sawey, a biology instructor, said most parents called him because they were concerned about their students.

    “I think most parents generally want to support their student…and that’s what they should do,” he said.

    Parents might be upset when professors do not release academic records, but they generally understand that professors are not legally allowed to disclose such information, he said.

    Sawey said he requires students to sign a waiver before he would discuss personal academic information with parents.

    “I think students have a responsibility to the people who are paying their way through the university,” he said.

    Sophomore strategic communication major Jessica Anderson said students should have the right to decide whether they disclose information about grades to their parents.

    Students are adults and should be responsible for making a choice to withhold academic information if they feel it is necessary, she said.

    Kari Berdelle, a junior strategic communication major, said students might have an obligation to tell their parents about their grades because many parents pay for the education their students receive.

    If a student pays for tuition, he or she should have the right to keep academic information private, she said.