Are professors able to discuss a student’s academic misconduct with others after the disciplinary file is no longer maintained after a set amount of years after the student has graduated? Even if the original academic records (eg. plagiarized exams) are still ‘maintained’ by the professor?

1 Answer 1


I assume there was an official hearing on misconduct, but the record was deleted from the university's holdings (following deletion policy). The disciplinary board had copies of the exam, complaint, and minutes from the hearing – and these were later deleted by policy. The instructor might still have the exam, and perhaps his own notes from the hearing. By the federal definition of education record,

(b) The term does not include:

(1) Records that are kept in the sole possession of the maker, are used only as a personal memory aid, and are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute for the maker of the record.

The exam itself is made by the student, and is not in the sole possession of the maker: the exam does not fall within the purview of this "not a record" exception. The faculty member's notes on the hearing were made by the faculty member, and they are covered by the "not a record" provision, as long as they are are not accessible or revealed to any other person. What this provision is about is that students have the right to access education records, but they do not have the right to access the faculty member's own personal notes about the hearing. Disclosing those personal notes makes them a record, meaning that consent is required.

The faculty member is probably in violation of university policy, for keeping a record past the destroy date. As an example, the final 3 pages of this records retention schedule indicate that a record is to be destroyed within 3 years of the student no longer being enrolled, at the maximum. Coursework materials are to be destroyed 2 terms after the term of enrollment. In reading this document, the wording is a bit vague: who is this addressed to? Faculty? This helpful (and authoritative) source suggests that it is directed to faculty, as does this.

  • Okay, then assuming there are no records maintained, would professors be able to discuss the event freely since FERPA only covers educational records that are maintained? Or is there protection even after scheduled destroy dates?
    – user23879
    Jan 22, 2019 at 17:43
  • 1
    As long as it's all from memory, there's no record, so no prohibition against disclosure. Any additional institutional restrictions would not be based on FERPA, and it's unlikely that there is such a rule.
    – user6726
    Jan 22, 2019 at 18:16

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