Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Blackhawk Technical College policy on the privacy of records and releasing information follows the directives outlined in FERPA, the federal law governing the protection of educational records. Registered students will be notified of this policy on an annual basis. Others can find the policy in the BTC Catalog, on the BTC website, or may obtain a copy of the policy upon request from the College.

Personally identifiable information will not be released from an education record without the prior written consent of the student unless an exception has been granted by FERPA (see exception section below).

Rights under FERPA

FERPA affords students:

1. The right to inspect and review the student's education records within 45 days of the day the College receives a request for access.

2. You should submit to the Registrar written requests that identify the record(s) you wish to inspect. The Registrar will make arrange for access and notify you of the time and place where the records may be inspected. At the time of viewing, the student will present some form of picture identification, such as a valid driver's license, before being allowed to view the record.

3. The right to request the amendment of the student's education records that the student believes is inaccurate or misleading.

4. You should write to the Registrar, clearly identifying the part of the record you want to be changed, and specify why it is inaccurate or misleading. If BTC decides not to amend the record as requested, the college will notify you of the decision and advise you of your right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures will be provided to you when you are notified of the right to a hearing.

5. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent (see exception section below).

6. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures of the College to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The name and address of the office that administers FERPA is:

Family Policy Compliance Office

U.S. Department of Education

600 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20202-4605

Exceptions under FERPA

Under certain conditions, as authorized by FERPA, information can be released without student consent:

Directory Information: The use of the term "Directory Information" does not imply that the College actually has a document containing Student Directory Information, or that the College has any obligation to produce such a document. The term "Directory Information" is a legal term applying to that information that the College may release, without student consent, to any third party.

The College has defined "Directory Information" as the following:

  • Student Name
  • Student Address and Phone Number
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Full-time or Part-time Status
  • Major Field of Study
  • Dates of Attendance
  • Credits Earned Toward a Diploma
  • Degrees and Awards Received
  • Photos and Videos of Students for use in College Press Releases, Publications, and Websites
  • BTC Assigned Student Email Accounts

Students have the right to restrict the disclosure of "Directory Information" at any time. To restrict the disclosure of Directory Information, a student may file a Privacy Request Form to the Registration and Records Office on Central or Monroe Campuses. The request to restrict disclosure of Directory Information will be honored until the student notifies the Registration and Records Office in writing to the contrary.

U.S. Military: According to federal law, the College must release to the U.S. Armed Forces student name, address, phone number, date of birth, and field of study.
Authorized Federal, State, and Local Authorities: Student authorization is not required for disclosure to an authorized representative of the following individuals or entities:

  • The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education
  • State educational authorities
  • Any party legitimately connected with a student's application for, or receipt of, financial aid
  • Accrediting organizations
  • Agencies involving an audit or evaluation of compliance with education programs
  • Organizations conducting studies for or on behalf of educational institutions

Other Institutions: Information can be released to other schools to which a student seeks or intends to enroll.

Emergency Situations: Information can be released to law enforcement personnel, emergency personnel, and College officials in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons.

Legitimate Education Interest: Officials of the College who have a legitimate educational interest may have access to student records without obtaining consent from the student. Officials of the College are defined as:

  • Persons employed by the school in an administrative, supervisory, academic, research or support staff position.
  • Persons serving on school governing bodies.
  • Persons employed by or under contract to the College to perform a specific task, such as an attorney or an auditor.

An official has a legitimate educational interest if s/he needs to:

  • Perform duties specified in their job description or under terms of a contractual agreement.
  • Provide campus services related to a student, such as advising or financial aid.
  • Conduct tasks related to a student's education or campus discipline.

Judicial Order: Information must be released to comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena. However, the College will make a reasonable effort to notify the student of the order or subpoena in advance of compliance, so that the student may seek protective action. However, if the court (or other issuing agency) has ordered that the existence or the contents of the subpoena or judicial order not be disclosed, the College will comply and notification to the student will be withheld.

Grievance Hearing: Information about a student or students involved in grievance investigation or grievance hearing may be released to members of the grievance committee, including any students assigned to that committee, if such information is germane to the investigation or hearing.

Disciplinary Hearing: The results of a disciplinary hearing may be released to an alleged victim of a crime of violence without the permission of the accused.

Blackhawk Technical College Foundation: Student names and addresses may be released to the Blackhawk Technical College Foundation for foundation-related activities. The Foundation is considered part of the College and will hold such information confidential, using the information only in specific activities intended to aid and support the College. The release of such information to the Foundation will be made only with the approval of the College President or his/her designees.

U.S. Patriot Act: The College must release, without consent or knowledge of the students personally identifiable information from a student's education record to the Attorney General of the United States or his/her designee in connection with the investigation or prosecution of terrorism crimes specified in sections 233b (g)(5)(B) and 2331 or Title 18 U.S. Code.

Written Release: Personal employed by the College who have consent in the form of a written release of information, signed by the student, and may disclose student information to the appropriate outside agencies of persons.

Note: A record of disclose will be maintained within a student's file indicating when information has been released from that file and to whom. A fee of five dollars may be assessed for the copying of all or a portion of a student record.

Student Identification Number and FERPA

As of January 1, 2000, Wisconsin Act 128 limits the disclosure and release of student Social Security Numbers. In order to comply with Act 128, BTC assigns a unique identification number to each student. This identification number does not incorporate the student's Social Security Number. BTC may collect and report student Social Security Numbers for state and federal reporting requirements. BTC procedures are designed to ensure that student Social Security Numbers remain confidential.