Is this a FERPA Violation?

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An instructor is sharing student submitted assignments to Canvas with student names on them. There is no actual grade stated, however there are comments from the professor providing grading feedback.

The instructor is sharing assignments of the same course with two different course sections (an in-person class and an online class).

One of the assignments we submitted was an open-ended article, in which some students shared personal details about their lives (e.g., job information, family details, former education), under the assumption no one except the professor would be reading said articles.

The professor then released all of the articles to both sections without our consent. I asked professor to remove my article from Canvas, which they did; however, my article was downloadable and viewable by my peers for some time before this.

I have had other professors tell me they are not allowed to even share student names, as this would be a violation of FERPA. I spoke with my department head, who told me FERPA strictly applies to graded material only.

Is this a violation of FERPA, or is this generally viewed as ok to do as an instructor?

I am a student.

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Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi there @DeletedUser. This forum is for help with Canvas-specific issues, such as technical troubleshooting, so we will not be the best area to help you with this. You will want to contact someone at your institution to help guide you through this, as we are not legal experts here! Some departments at your institution that may have the right folks to help you could be an Office of Civil Rights, Office of Compliance, or the like that deals with legal compliance areas.

I will say that FERPA generally focuses on releasing student records outside of the institution. Since the items shared were within the (virtual) classroom, this likely would not be a FERPA violation. It may not have been a great thing for them to do, but may not be a legal issue. Again though, we are Canvas experts here, not legal experts so please get in touch with someone directly at your institution who is!

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