Confidentiality & Student Data Privacy

All WSU students are entitled to the confidentiality of all records, communications, and identity. As faculty and staff, it is our responsibility to make sure these rights are respected. 

Faculty and staff regularly create, maintain and review student data in their daily work as instructors, advisors, and support professionals. 

If accessing student data is part of your position, it’s important that you understand your responsibility to protect students’ privacy.

Data Privacy & FERPA

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 educational records. These same rights are reinforced in Minnesota by several state laws, including the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

In general, FERPA prohibits sharing educational records or personally identifiable information without the student’s prior consent.

Faculty need to be especially careful about protecting students’ grades. You may not: 

  • publicly post grades 
  • leave graded student work out where others might see it
  • have another student return graded work to a student
  • have students look through a stack of graded work to find their assignment
  • respond to requests about a student’s grades from parents, employers, clubs, researchers, reporters or social organizations
Learn More About FERPA

Student Confidentiality

WSU employees and consultants may have access to student files and related academic information. Therefore, all legal and ethical restrictions and policies of Winona State University apply to data confidentiality. 

Disclosure of any student information to anyone–including a student, friend, spouse, multi-media, social networking, website, blog, or wiki— whether for personal or professional use, could be a breach of confidentiality.

Disclosure of any student information by faculty, staff, or other University employees without a legitimate educational interest or a signed student release may also be a breach of confidentiality.

Any breach of confidentiality, misuse of information, and/or unauthorized release of information may result in disciplinary action or discontinuation of employment from Winona State University. 

Report Misuse of Student Information

If you have reason to believe that the confidentiality of a WSU student has been compromised, you must notify your supervisor immediately.