Skip to main content

Fitchburg State uses technology to gather information and better understand visitors’ experiences. By continuing to use this website, you consent to this usage in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Records and Confidentiality

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Confidentiality

Except as may be provided otherwise by applicable law, all disciplinary proceedings, the identity of individuals involved in particular disciplinary matters, and all disciplinary files, testimony, and findings are confidential. This is in accordance with University policies, and federal laws concerning the confidentiality of student records. Information regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) may be found by visiting the Registrar’s website or the US Department of Education’s website regarding FERPA.

Record Maintenance

Records are maintained in compliance with applicable federal laws, state laws, and University policies. Student conduct records are considered educational records subject to restrictions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, but are maintained separately from the students’ transcript and other educational records.

The Dean of Students maintains these records.

Student Conduct records are maintained as follows:

  • 7 years from the date of the letter providing final notice of final disciplinary action (or as provided under applicable state retention records guidelines);
  • Records resulting in a sanction of suspension and/or dismissal are maintained indefinitely;
  • Records that may be subject to legal action and/or review, are of a sensitive nature, consist of egregious violations, and/or at the discretion of the Dean of Students may be maintained for a longer period of time at the discretion of the Dean;
  • After seven years, unless noted otherwise in the preceding statements or otherwise noted by applicable laws, student conduct records are deleted and/or sealed. Records that are sealed will not be released and are only maintained for statistical purposes, which may include internal statistics or the reporting of Clery Act Statistics (if applicable).

Release of Records

Federal law and University policy govern the release of disciplinary records to anyone other than the student.

Student (Respondent)

Please allow 3 to 5 business days for processing. Requests are acted upon in the order they are received. Although we attempt to process record requests in 3 to 5 business days, nothing shall preclude the Office from acting in accordance with the maximum period established under FERPA.

Student’s wishing to access a copy of their record, this includes accessing a copy of the reports filed, should complete a ‘Request to Inspect, Review or Receive Records,’ which may be submitted electronically.

Student’s wishing to release a copy of their record to any party other than themselves should complete an ‘Authorization for Release of Information’ form, which may be submitted electronically.

Exception: Office staff shall accept and complete other forms where the student has signed for the information to be released, and has released the institution from any and all liability that may be incurred by releasing the information. Such forms are completed at the discretion of the Dean of Students, or designee.

Letter of Good Conduct

The Dean of Students will provide to any student a letter of good conduct, upon written request for such a letter. Said letter will be provided when the student is currently in good conduct standing and attest to such.

Everyone other than the Student

Everyone other than the student should request the student complete an ‘Authorization for Release of Information’ so they may receive a copy of the information. [Please Note: The student can receive a copy of the records and provide you with a copy.]

This applies to: parents, internal parties (faculty, staff, administrators, departments, on campus employers) employers, housing agencies, government agencies, etc. Anyone who is not the student, except as provided below and/or under applicable exemptions to FERPA, would fall under this category.

Exceptions to the Release of Information

The following exemptions shall apply to the release of information. This is when records may be released without the student’s permission and/or a signed waiver on file.

FERPA / Parental Notification

Parents are encouraged to review the US Department of Education’s guidance on FERPA. The University may only release limited information under specific circumstances to parents. Parents desiring to access a student's conduct record are encouraged to have the student complete a records release form, so we can discuss the incident in detail. We are also able to provide the student with all applicable information, who may in turn release the information directly to you.

Another provision in FERPA permits a college or university to let parents of students under the age of 21 know when the student has violated any law or policy concerning the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance. It is the practice of Student Conduct to send written notification to the parent(s) or guardian(s). Parents/Guardians seeking further information are encouraged to have the student complete a records release form.

Legitimate Educational Interest

The release of student conduct records for the purposes of legitimate educational interest is determined at the discretion of the Dean of Students. Legitimate educational interest is necessary for Fitchburg State Employees or Office of Student Conduct volunteers to carry out their responsibilities in support of Fitchburg State’s educational mission. Legitimate educational interest should be thought of as need to know to carry out one’s job responsibilities.

Here are several points related to legitimate educational interest:

  • Curiosity is not a legitimate educational interest. Just because you want to know the information or have access to Fitchburg State’s secure conduct management system, or are able to view a record, does not mean you have a legitimate educational interest.
  • Simply the fact that you are a University employee or involved in student conduct does not mean you have a legitimate educational interest. Need to know must be related to your job responsibilities. In other words, records should be used only in the context of official University business in conjunction with the educational success of the student.
  • Legitimate educational interest is limited. While you may need to access education records for students in a particular club, position, or residence hall, you do not necessarily have a need to see records of students outside of that club, position or residence hall. Access does not mean unlimited access.

The Dean considers legitimate educational interest to exist when one needs access to the information in order to effectively carry out their responsibilities. For example, this means we will provide such information to the Director of Athletics when an athlete is involved, or say a Greek Organization Advisor when a student is identified as a member of such an organization. The responsibility exists in the staff member’s responsibility for those students. Similarly, records may be released to hearing officers or board in order to effectively carry out their responsibilities related to the hearing.

Subpoena or Judicial (Court) Order

Student Conduct shall comply with all legally issued subpoenas and/or judicial (court) orders. In the case where the records need not be released immediately, the University shall notify the student of the subpoena and/or judicial order and set a date of release. Pending no other legal orders to the contrary are received, the Office shall release such records on the scheduled date of release. When the subpoena and/or judicial (court) order requires the records to be released immediately, Student Conduct shall comply with such request.

Interest of Public Safety (Immediate)

At the discretion of the Dean of Students or designee, student conduct records may be released to law enforcement or other public safety officials in the event of an emergency, and/or if such information included in the record poses a significant and substantial threat to the public safety of the University and/or other entity.

Imminent Threat

In cases where an imminent threat is determined to exist by a University administrator with responsibility to act, they may release such information as permitted by FERPA.

Title IX

Records that fall within the purview of Title IX may be shared with the Director of Title IX Compliance and the Dean/Deputy Title IX Coordinator. This falls under the legitimate educational interest exception.

Protection Against Legal Liability, OCR Complaints, and/or Criminal Accusations

Student Conduct and/or the University may release records internally and/or to any hired attorneys, consultants, representatives, or others in or representing the institution in any legal matter, legal process, OCR complaint or process, or criminal complaint or process.

Other Exceptions as Permitted by Law

Records may also be released where permitted under Federal or State law.

Inquiries

Inquires regarding Student Conduct Records should be addressed to:

Dr. William Cummings
Dean of Students
Sanders Administration Building, Suite 204
(978) 665-3887 or judicial@fitchburgstate.edu

Fitchburg State University
Student Affairs
160 Pearl Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420