Guidelines for Faculty & Staff

FERPA recognizes a student enrolled at UW-Madison to have certain rights, regardless of that person’s age. Those rights include access to their records and an obligation on the part of UW-Madison school officials (i.e., faculty, staff, field supervisors, etc.) to maintain confidentiality about the records.

Accessing & Retaining Records

  • Access student records only when there is a legitimate educational interest.  
  • Keep only the student records needed for the fulfillment of professional responsibilities; check departmental information about record retention and disposal.

Emergency Situations

Ensuring Privacy while Managing Records in Classes

  • Maintain the privacy of all student academic work (paper and electronic) at all times - at work, at home, and in transit.
  • Never allow students to pick up their academic work by sorting through materials that include classmates’ work.
  • Do not use or circulate printed class lists/rosters that include student names, IDs, etc. for attendance purposes.
  • Do not use student personal information, including name, ID and/or SSN, for the public posting of grades or for any other use.
  • Students who participate in a course that uses a course management system (e.g., Learn@UW, Moodle) may have access to personal information and academic work produced by other students and faculty members.  FERPA and UW-Madison policy require that students and faculty not reveal any information about classmates, course work content, or its authors to anyone outside of the class.

Releasing and Sharing Information

  • Student directory information that has been restricted may not be released to the public without the written consent of the student. If you have access to the Student Information System (SIS) and if there is a FERPA flag on the student's record, you can view the releasable information for that student under Campus Community >Personal Information >Biographical >Person FERPA >Review FERPA Display.
  • Do not share private or withheld student information with others who do not have a legitimate educational interest without first having the student’s written consent.  Written consent must: 1) specify the records to be released, 2) identify the party or class of parties to whom the records should be released, and 3) indicate the reason for the release.
  • Do not release or discuss student information to parents or guardians without written consent by the student.  Parents and guardians do not have a legal right to their child’s educational records, even if that child is a minor.
  • Obtain the student’s prior written consent before writing a letter of recommendation.
  • When in doubt do not release student information; instead contact the Office of the Registrar at 608-262-3811.

Technology Best Practices to Ensure Privacy

  • Always place student e-mail addresses in blind copy when sending e-mail to groups of students.
  • Avoid using personally identifiable information about students in e-mail subject lines and in the bodies of e-mails.
  • Be careful about sharing private information via wireless technology (cell phones, wireless Internet, etc.).
  • Advise students to take caution in the use of Web sites, electronic communication, and social technology software (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.). Security advice and training is available.
  • Follow UW-Madison guidelines for appropriate use of technology.