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Policy: XV.C.1

Issued: July 17, 1989

Owner: University Comptroller

Latest Revision: June 29, 2006



For Current Policies:
Policy Table of Contents


1.0 Purpose

This policy notifies University faculty and administrative staff having custody of records of their responsibilities in releasing University records or information. It incorporates the requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VA Code 2.1-340 - 2.1-346.1), The Virginia Privacy Protection Act of 1976 (VA Code 2.1-377 - 2.1-386), and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C.  1232 (g), and regulations promulgated thereto at 34 C.F.R.  99).

See also:

Policy XV.D.1, "Protecting Privacy Rights of Students."

Note: For Procedures For Disclosure, see section 2.4.

2.0 Policy [Top]

2.1 Records Subject to Public Access

Except as otherwise specifically provided by law, all official records shall be open for inspection and copying by any Virginia citizen during the regular office hours of the custodian of the records.

Records of the position, classification, official salary, or rate of pay and records of allowances or reimbursements for expenses paid to any University or other public officer, official, or employee are subject to public access, except that records of the official salaries or rates of pay of University or other public employees earning less than $10,000 per year shall not be subject to public access.

Also see Exceptions.

2.2 Individual Access

An individual shall be allowed access to certain types of records of which he/she is the subject. These records include:

"Scholastic Records"

Also see Exceptions.

Note: A parent or guardian may have access to the scholastic records of a dependent student, as defined in 152 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. The subject student need not be a Virginia citizen to obtain this access.

Also see "Enforcement" section below.

Personnel records, including tests or examinations used to evaluate an employee or an employment seeker's qualifications or aptitude for employment, retention, or promotion. Also see "Exceptions" below.

Medical and Mental Health Records.

Records including "personal information." The data subject may inspect the personal information, the information sources, and the names of recipients not having regular access, their organization, and reason for access.

2.3 Exceptions

The following records are subject to access as noted.

Subject Person Access?
Public Access?
Records of the official salaries or rates of pay of University or other public employees earning less than $10,000 per year.
Concerning "scholastic" records, financial records of a parent or guardian, or records maintained by individual University personnel, if such records are in the maker's sole possession and not available to any other person except a substitute. Also see " Enforcement" section below.
concerning medical and mental health records, mental health records are not available when the subject person's treating physician has included in the records a written statement that access to those mental health records would be injurious to the subject person's physical or mental health, or well-being. Access to medical and mental records shall be available to the subject person's physician of choice.
Yes, except where excluded
Concerning personnel records, confidential letters of recommendation concerning admission, employment, performance, promotion, or retention.
Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in student's records: Prior to January 1, 1975, if such letters or statement were given or retained with a documented assurance of confidentiality.
Confidential letters and statements of recommendation placed in student's records: On or after January 1, 1975, if the student waived his/her right to inspect and review the letters and statements of recommendation.
No, if right to inspect was waived
Library records which can be used to identify both the individual who has borrowed material from a library and the material borrowed.

Note: It is permissible to disclose records showing which materials have been borrowed, if such records do not disclose the borrower's name.

Tests or examinations used, administered, or prepared for evaluating:
Subject Person Access?
Public Access?
A student or student's performance,
An employee or employment seeker's qualifications or aptitude for employment, retention, or promotion.
Qualifications for any certificate or license, issued by the University.
Memoranda, correspondence, evidence, and complaints related to criminal investigations; reports submitted to State, local, or University Police in confidence.

Note: This information should be:

Subject Person Access?
Public Access?
"Personal Information" from statistical reports or research without revealing trade secrets, methodology, etc., and with the guarantee the personal information will not be used in any way to prejudice judgments about any data subject.
Yes, given conditions and guarantees
"Personal Information", unless the subject of the information has given written authorization for the release of the information. Such notice may be given on the forms on which the subject person disclosed the personal information.
Yes, if released
Data, records, or information of a proprietary nature (non-financial, non-administrative) gathered for or from medical, scientific, technical, or scholarly study or research, regardless of sponsorship, if not publicly released, published, copyrighted, or patented.
Yes, if released
Computer programs, acquired from a vendor for processing University data, which may be in official University records.
Financial statements not publicly released but used in financing industrial developments.
Lists of registered owners of University bonds.
Memoranda, working papers, and correspondence held or requested by the Office of the University President.
Memoranda, legal opinions, working papers, and records recorded in or compiled exclusively for executive or closed meetings of the Board of Visitors lawfully held.
Memoranda, working papers, and records compiled specifically for use in litigation.

2.4 Procedures for Disclosure



The President's Office and the Office of University Relations will maintain a list of all University information systems containing personal information, and the locations, descriptions, and officials-in-charge of those records. Upon written request, the public may obtain the list at a reasonable fee to cover reproduction costs.

A requestor shall designate the requested records IN WRITING with reasonable specificity. If the requested records include "personal information," the requestor should also state the intended use of the records and possible consequences to the data subject, if known. Such dated requests need not refer to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act or 2.1-342 of the Code of Virginia.

An initial response to a request for access to records must be made IN WRITING WITHIN FIVE WORK DAYS after receipt of the request by the custodian of the records.

The University can petition the appropriate circuit court for additional time if:

Failure to respond to a request constitutes a violation of the Freedom of Information Act and a denial of the request.

The University is not required, but may choose to create, prepare, or summarize a record if one does not already exist.

2.5 Record of Disclosure

Faculty or administrative staff having custody of records shall maintain a list of all persons having regular access and all non- regular requests or releases of "personal information."

The non-regular request list shall identify the requestor and state the purpose of the request or release. No record need be kept for releases to the data subject, to University employees for official requests, or for directory information requests. The request/release list should be maintained for at least three years or until the personal information is purged. The data subject also has access to the access/release list.

2.6 Corrections to Records

Employees or other data subjects, except students (students should refer to Policy XV.D.1, "Protecting Privacy Rights of Students," and the section entitled "Amendment of Education Records"), are provided a means to correct their records by giving written notice to challenge, correct, or explain their "personal information" in question.

Challenges are accepted on questions of accuracy, not questions of judgment. To the extent possible, the challenge should specify the exact type, source, and date of the questioned record. Also required is the reason for and nature of the proposed correction.

On receipt of the challenge, the official will investigate and record the current status of the personal information. If the investigation shows the information to be incomplete, inaccurate, not pertinent, not timely, or unnecessary, the official shall promptly correct the record.

If the investigation does not resolve the dispute, the employee or data subject may file a statement of 200 words or less outlining his/her position.

The official shall supply all previous record recipients with a copy of the statement, and make the statement a part of the official record, to be released in later requests.

Note: Departments should request permission from the University Archivist, Alderman Library, before records are purged or destroyed.

2.7 Disclosure of Social Security Number

Unless disclosure is required by Federal or State law,

No University activity may require persons to disclose their social security numbers for any purpose or in connection with any activity,

Nor can that University activity refuse, wholly or partially, any service, privilege, or right to those individuals not furnishing that number.

2.8 Enforcement

A single instance of a denial of rights and privileges is sufficient to constitute a violation.

Any person who is denied rights and privileges under this policy may enforce those rights and privileges by petition to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, and shall be heard within seven days. Such person shall petition for a writ of mandamus commanding affirmative compliance with the violated provision(s), or for injunctive relief commanding cessation of conduct which violates rights and privileges. The petition must allege circumstances of the denial of rights and privileges with reasonable specificity.

In addition, any person who is denied rights and privileges granted by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, (20 U.S.C. 1232 (g), and regulations promulgated thereto at 34 C.F.R. 99), as explained in this policy, may direct complaints to:

The Student and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Office
Department of Education, Room 3021 FOB6
400 Maryland Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20202

The Office will then conduct an investigation, recommending a hearing if it sees fit.

2.9 Sanctions

If the Virginia court finds a denial of rights has occurred, it may award petitioner costs and reasonable attorney's fees, to be paid by the University.

If the Virginia court finds the petitioner's case is clearly inadequate, it may award costs and reasonable attorney's fees to the University, to be paid by the petitioner.

If the Virginia court finds a violation was willfully and knowingly made, it shall impose upon the person involved in his/her individual capacity a civil penalty of not less than $25 nor more than $500, even if a writ of mandamus or injunctive relief is not awarded.

If the Department of Health and Human Services finds a denial of rights has occurred, it shall notify the University of specific steps to be taken to bring the University into compliance.

If, after a hearing, the Secretary of Health and Human Services finds compliance cannot be secured by voluntary means, he/she shall deny Federal funds to the University.

3.0 Definitions [Top]

Official Records

All written or printed books, papers, letters, documents, maps and tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, reports, or other material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, prepared, owned, or in the possession of the University or any employee or officer of the University in the transaction of University business.


Any citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, or any representative of newspapers or magazines with circulations in Virginia or of radio and television stations broadcasting in or into Virginia.

Scholastic Records

All records, documents, files, and other materials containing information about an identifiable student or students, whether or not the student is a Virginia citizen.

Personal Information

All information that describes, locates, or indexes anything about an individual including:

Any record that affords a basis for inferring personal characteristics, such as finger and voice prints, photographs or things done by or to such individual.

Any record of an individual's presence, registration, or membership in an organization or activity, or admission to an institution.

Note: The University is only authorized to collect personal information explicitly authorized.

Also see Exceptions

4.0 References [Top]

5.0 Approvals and Revisions [Top]

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