Ask the FERPA Professor

Dear FERPA Professor,

On our department website we provide graduate students the opportunity to have a profile page. The student provides content like undergrad institution, research interests, courses taught, email address, and so on. We, in turn, post it on the website. Our institutional leadership recently let us know that we need to remove the email addresses since they are not considered ‘directory information.’

Email address is optional on the department website; it is only included when the student sends it to me to be added to their public profile page. I do not post an email address unless the student asks for it to be publicly posted. In this case, is posting the email address a violation of FERPA?

Thanks for your time,

Fulton Reed

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Dear Fulton,

If email address is not considered a ‘directory information’ item at your institution, then the student would generally need to provide written consent prior to having the item added to the student’s profile page. You might want to consider some type of consent option to accompany the request from the student.

To make things simple for both parties, if the consent is sent from the student’s institutionally-assigned email address, you could consider that an electronic signature.

I hope this is helpful in answering your question,

The FERPA Professor

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