Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Feds Weigh in on Student Privacy

An attorney for the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) recently summarized the new federal guidelines about student privacy.

The following are just some recommendations to school districts from  the federal government as reported by NYSSBA:
  • "Consider the appropriateness of parental consent even when FERPA does not require such consent." (It is refreshing to read about the importance of keeping parents in the loop especially given the extent to which their rights and role have been ignored.)
  • "Be as transparent as possible with parents and students about how the district collects, shares, protects, and uses student data, as well as the type of information collected when students use online educational services..." (How transparent is your school district? Can you go to the district's website and easily access information about student privacy laws like FERPA and COPPA? About contracts district officials have signed that involve the sharing, storage, deletion of private student information? About the scope of student privacy training required of district employees? About pending NYS legislation pertinent to student privacy issues?) 
  • "Adopt  and enforce policies for evaluating and approving online educational services..." [Emphasis added] (Are your school board members adopting and enforcing such policies?)
Like never before in history, technology now enables the collection and sharing of enormous amounts of private student information. Who can be counted on to be most committed to protecting students' privacy interests? Parents - whose Achilles' heel is that they have limitations in their ability to organize. 

School officials who are willing to sacrifice or risk student privacy in exchange for the purported benefits of sharing vast troves of private student information have their priorities misplaced. Where do your school officials stand on the matter?

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