Office of the Registrar
FERPA for Faculty and Staff
Do not display student scores or grades in a public place or associate grades with names, social security numbers, WKU ID numbers, or any other personal identifiers. This applies to paper, computer, and verbal recording of grades.
Do not place graded papers / exams / projects in publicly accessible places. Distributing graded work in a manner that exposes the student's identity or otherwise displays personally identifiable information is a violation of FERPA, regardless of the medium used.
In general, disparate courses cannot be merged in Blackboard (Bb). However, there are numerous times when Bb course merges are permissible and/or desirable. This section provides further information about when and how disparate courses could be merged and suggests alternative actions when they cannot.
For students who have exercised their rights under FERPA to place a block on release
of any directory information, we are legally not allowed to show even the names of
students to students in other sections. The US Department of Education (USDOE) does
allow students within a course to see the names (but not contact information) for
other students in the course - just as they would see them in the classroom - but
does not allow this across courses.
Additionally, when the courses have different faculty, merging them into a single Bb course would give faculty members access to academic record information for which they do not have a legitimate educational interest under FERPA.
Bb Merge Review Process
The Office of the University Registrar will review requests for Blackboard course merges, weighing all information available at the time of the review. The review takes into account information such as course levels, student use of certain Bb tools, student confidentiality holds, and pedagogical need. After add/drop, a final review of all merged Bb courses will take place to reconfirm that FERPA concerns do not exist.
Merges of courses that are not cross-listed in Banner require review prior to the Bb course merge to ensure there are no FERPA concerns. This includes one instructor choosing to merge multiple sections of their own courses into one Bb course, and multiple instructors choosing to merge each of their sections into one Bb course. If the courses are taught by different primary instructors, but each instructor is listed in Banner as a secondary instructor on the other's course, concerns regarding faculty access to academic record information may be mitigated.
If certain Bb tools will not be available for student use (student send email, class roster, discussions, groups, wikis, and blogs), the request to merge will have a simpler review process. If one or more of those Bb tools will be available for student use, the review to confirm FERPA concerns do not exist may be more complex.
Special note about lab sections of shared co-requisite lectures: Students are co-mingled in the lecture (and/or discussion) sections in different combinations. Therefore, we view the array of lecture, lab, and discussion sections as multiple parts of one single course. A request is still required, but approval will be granted for these course combinations. One instructor should submit the request to merge these sections on behalf of all the other instructors.
Sections that are cross-listed in Banner are considered by WKU to be one single course. Instructors do not need to submit a request to merge the courses if all courses included in the merge are officially cross-listed with each other in Banner. These sections can be merged in Bb by the primary instructor without additional assistance or review.
If instructors wish to merge courses in Bb that are not cross-listed in Banner, they will submit the Request to Merge Blackboard Courses to the Office of the University Registrar. In the case of multiple instructors requesting to merge their courses in Bb together, only one instructor needs to submit a request form. We will review the request as quickly as possible and follow-up if any clarification is needed. Please note that we anticipate increased volume of requests at the beginning of each term.
Faculty and staff members are school officials, as defined by FERPA. Faculty members are given access to class and grade rosters as well as other education records; however, student records must not be accessed unless a legitimate educational interest exists.
From time to time parents will contact instructors, advisors, or other staff members to find out how their child is performing academically. Remember, you are not allowed to discuss anything beyond directory information with the parent unless the student has given written permission for you to discuss non-directory information.
Students may permit you to discuss their education records with their parents or other third party by providing a signed "Authorization to Disclose Academic Information" form to you.
Contact the Office of the Registrar if you still have questions about talking with a parent.
FERPA states an institution may release directory information. We are not, however, required to do so. If you encounter a situation in which you are uncomfortable providing information, do not do so. If the requesting party is insistent, contact the Office of the Registrar.
Do not include any non-directory information in a recommendation or reference letter unless you are specifically authorized to do so by the requesting student. Students must request the release of this information in writing.
Student employees of the university are under the same obligation to uphold FERPA rights and regulations as faculty and staff. This obligation is not limited to paid student workers; it also includes students who have access to non-directory information as part of their duties, such as teaching assistants, lab assistants, etc.
If non-directory information is required during an emergency, WKU may release that information if it is deemed necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.