Requests for Educational Records
Federal law requires that special procedures be followed when the College receives a subpoena or other request for educational records concerning individual students. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (also known as the "Buckley Amendment") provides that, with certain exceptions, educational records may not be disclosed to persons outside the College other than the student. One of the exceptions permits the College to provide copies of student records in connection with judicial proceedings, but only if (1) the College has received a valid subpoena for the records; and (2) the College, before complying with the subpoena, makes a reasonable effort to notify the student that it has received a subpoena and intends to produce the requested records.
Therefore, before furnishing copies of educational records to third parties, it is important that you comply with the following procedures:
- Contact the General Counsel's Office: If you receive a subpoena, you should immediately contact the General Counsel's Office and deliver or fax a copy of the subpoena to this office. Be sure to specify the individual who received the subpoena and the date and manner in which it was received.
- Consult With the General Counsel's Office to Determine Whether the Subpoena Should Be Honored: The General Counsel's Office will check to see whether the subpoena is valid. Determining whether a subpoena is valid can be complicated, particularly where the litigation is taking place outside New Hampshire. For out-of-state litigation, there are specific procedures that an attorney must follow to obtain a subpoena that is valid in New Hampshire. Different rules apply to civil and criminal cases. The General Counsel's Office will advise you whether the subpoena is valid and enforceable for purposes of the Buckley Amendment.
- Do Not Produce Any Records Until the Subpoena Has Been Approved by the General Counsel's Office: While the subpoena is being reviewed by the General Counsel's Office, you should not produce any records, even if the subpoena contains an imminent deadline for a response and/or representatives of the parties are contacting your office and urging you to respond.
- Refer All Outside Attorneys to the General Counsel's Office: All dealings with outside attorneys should be conducted through the Office of the General Counsel. If you are contacted by an attorney, please refer the attorney to this office.
- Attempt to Notify the Student Before Releasing Any Records: If the General Counsel's Office determines that the subpoena is valid and should be honored, you should not release copies of any records until you have first attempted to send written notification to the student whose records have been requested, informing the student of the receipt of the subpoena and the fact that you intend to comply. (If the student is under 18 years of age, the notification should be directed to his or her parent or guardian.) The responsible attorney in the General Counsel's Office can assist you in drafting this letter. Government regulations require that the College make a "reasonable effort" to notify the student (or parent or guardian, in the case of students under 18) of the subpoena in advance of compliance. Attempting to reach the student (or parent or guardian) at the most current address on file at the College represents such a "reasonable effort."
If the request seeks records of a former student, and your own address list has not been updated recently, you should check with other offices that are likely to have the student's address within your School or elsewhere in the College (e.g., the Alumni Relations Office).