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Information for Parents, Lawyers, and Other Concerned Parties

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities wants to be transparent and informative for parents, lawyers, and other concerned parties so that you know the rights of your students and so that you know your own rights prior to contacting the office. 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Students to whom the rights have transferred are "eligible students." All Cal Poly students, who are over the age of 18, are "eligible students," which means that the students have the rights to their own education records, and the students must fill out a FERPA Waiver Form before we can provide the parent with any protected information. The FERPA Waiver Forms are available in Building 52, Room E7.  

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; 
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school. (Reference)

Lawyers' Rights

Student conduct proceedings are not meant to be formal court-like trials. Although University-related sanctions may be imposed, the process is intended to provide an opportunity for learning.

After appropriate consultations on campus, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, has chosen to permit students to have attorneys as advisors during pre-hearing conference and hearing proceedings.  Attorneys serving in this advisory capacity may not otherwise participate in the conference or hearing in a representational or advocacy role.  Appropriate witnesses with attorney status may testify during hearing proceedings but may not otherwise participate at the hearing in a representational or advocacy role.  

Should a student wish to have his or her attorney present at a pre-hearing conference or hearing, the student must notify the Student Conduct Administrator in the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities in writing at least five working days prior to the conference or hearing.

Any party may consult attorneys outside of the actual proceedings irrespective of the president's directive. 

Notwithstanding any Campus directive, attorneys may attend hearings: (a) where there are pending criminal (felony) charges arising out of the same facts that are the subject of the disciplinary proceeding; or (b) where the recommended sanction is expulsion.

Other Interested Parties

We understand that other people outside of legal guardians and lawyers may have an interest in a student's education. FERPA does not only apply to parents; it also applies to other interested parties, so it is the student's discretion to authorize an interested party access to the student's private and confidential information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at osrr@calpoly.edu

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