Comprehensive Standard 3.9.2

 

The institution protects the security, confidentiality, and integrity of its student records. (Student Records)

 

COMPLIANCE

 

Narrative:

 

Vernon College demonstrates compliance in protecting the security, confidentiality, integrity, and preservation of student records. Student record access is strictly governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). This policy limits the release of student educational records to directory information specifically set forth in the policy. Students are allowed to opt out of these releases upon written request. Each Vernon College department under the direction of the appropriate dean is responsible for training employees on the correct and lawful verbal and written release of student information as well as the security of documents both paper and electronic. The institution makes every effort to inform all employees of these regulations and provide an annual review to employees to ensure that student records and information are kept secure and confidential.

 

In accordance with Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section FJ Legal, both students and the community are informed of the policies and procedures governing student records through the FERPA information printed annually in the Vernon College General Catalog and the Vernon College Student Handbook. This information is also available online via the Vernon College website.

 

The Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid/Registrar is custodian of all student records for currently enrolled students and for all official academic records. The Dean of Instructional Services is custodian of academic status records. The Dean of Students is custodian of all other records.

 

In the Student Services Division, student records are kept by the Dean of Student Services/Athletic Director, in the Testing Centers, Student Housing Office, Health Clinic, and in the Counseling Offices. These records include disciplinary files, student grievances, test scores, advising note information, counseling notes, housing documentation, health clinic medical records, and placement and interest inventory data. The information is kept in locked file cabinets behind locked office doors. Only select Student Services employees have access to these files.

 

All staff members of the Office of Admissions and Records and the Financial Aid Office, including work study students, are required to sign a Vernon College Acceptance of Responsibility FERPA form before employment in those offices. The College does not provide access to any student records without the written consent of the student or qualified individual, as defined in Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section FJ Legal and Section FJ Local.

 

Paper copies of older permanent student records, such as transcripts, are stored in a fire-proof, environmentally controlled vault. These include records which were created prior to computerization of records and require special care. Paper documents received currently exist in electronic format on the institution's electronic imaging system from the time of entry until the retention period ends. These represent student documents used for data entry into the college’s student information system. Backups of paper and electronic student records are either maintained on microfilm or stored on computer servers (Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section CIA Legal). All computer servers, including those with student records, are backed up on a weekly basis.  These backups are then stored in the College vault.  Additionally, on a weekly basis, the most recent backup is taken off campus by the Director of Information Technology for storage in a fire proof cabinet. Finally, on a biweekly basis, the most recent backups are stored off campus at the Waggoner National Bank in a safe deposit box.

 

Vernon College has in place extensive security measures to ensure that unauthorized persons cannot view student records through the college’s computer servers. The only access to information in these computer servers is through authorized user identifications and passwords. Password security to computer servers is maintained by the college’s Information Technology (IT) Department.

 

The Information Technology (IT) Department and computer servers are located within a restricted access area in the network room of the Osborne Administration Building on the Vernon campus. Keys to this area are not a part of any master key program and are limited to IT staff and the Dean of Administrative Services. In addition, one key is maintained in a locked cabinet for emergency access by maintenance staff.

 

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission require Record Control Schedules which govern the retention period for each student record. Original or copied paper student records that are eligible to be destroyed are secured and shredded by appropriate VC staff.

 

Documentation

 

1.    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

2.    Vernon College Acceptance of Responsibility FERPA form

3.    Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section FJ Legal

4.    Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section FJ Local

5.    Vernon College Board Policy Manual, Section CIA Legal

6.    Vernon College General Catalog

7.    Vernon College Student Handbook

8.    FERPA, Vernon College Website