[TACRAO] Listserv FERPA Question - "Unofficial Auditors"

Justin Schilke jschilke at rice.edu
Tue Apr 3 15:03:09 CDT 2018

Good afternoon,


We were posed with a question regarding individuals sitting in on classes
that they have not registered for. Regardless of other institutional
policies that may prevent this at your school, would you consider
individuals sitting in on classes that they have not registered for to be a
potential FERPA violation if student schedules are not considered directory


As a follow-up: if this "unofficial auditor" is not "in attendance," does
that matter with regards to this?


The basic argument for it being a potential violation would be that the
individual sitting in would know what course he/she is sitting in and could
reasonably identify others in the class through various means, thereby
identifying them as registered for the course and gain access to part of the
student's schedule. Additionally, we don't allow specific recordings of
student work to be taped and shown to those who aren't registered for the
course without a signed release, so how would this be different? However,
I'm not sure how this correlates to not being able to be anonymous in the
classroom and personal observation since there isn't a tangible record that
could be released. (In other words, does the fact that being able to be
anonymous in the classroom allow anyone to simply sit in the course and not
officially register for it, either for credit or as an auditor?)


Extra points for any FPCO letters or other documented FERPA guidance on






Justin Schilke

Associate Registrar

Office of the Registrar / Rice University

ph: 713-348-3157 / fax: 713-348-5921

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