Mar 042015
 
 March 4, 2015  Laws, U.S., Youth & Schools

Corinne Lestch writes:

Districts have been scrambling to comply with a strict new law that went into effect this school year that prohibits schools from collecting, without parental consent, more than two pieces of personally identifiable information “that separately or when linked together can be used to reasonably ascertain the identity of the person.”

[…]

Schroder said his bill was driven by parents after concerns arose that new, standardized Common Core tests could lead to breaches of their kids’ information in the hands of third-party educational vendors. Parents were also worried about Louisiana’s participation in inBloom, a student information warehouse that has since shuttered.

The bill requires parents to sign annual permission forms to allow their children’s data to be collected to take school photos, given to companies like Scholastic to track reading progress and sent to a state financial aid program that awards scholarships for college.

“If a parent doesn’t send that letter back, or doesn’t give us permission, then their child could lose out on opportunities for financial aid,” Watts said. “Just the thought of that makes me cringe.”

The Schroder bill also requires that the state Department of Education create an anonymous identifier system by May 1 that does not use students’ Social Security numbers, and the new codes must be assigned by June 1. The state will no longer be able to access students’ names, date and place of birth, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, and other information to use for assessment and accountability purposes.

If someone violates the law, which Schroder says is the strictest in the country, the offender faces up to a $10,000 fine or three years in prison, or both.

Several school leaders said in interviews with FedScoop that they have devoted countless hours tracking down hundreds of vendors to sign privacy addendums; posting the vendor contracts on their websites; and reaching out to parents to sign and return consent forms.

Read more on FedScoop.

Okay, so complying with the new laws is time-consuming, and some children may be deprived of certain experiences if the schools don’t/can’t obtain parental consent forms. But the latter has always been the case – kids can’t go on school field trips without parental permission, etc. This is just magnified quantitatively, it seems. Once districts and schools establish some routines that parents and vendors can learn, it should go more smoothly in the future.

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