Amy Davis reports that in Texas, some school districts are no longer sharing what is called “Directory Information” under FERPA, but some districts still are.
As background, she notes that in 2010, Channel 2 News requested and received a list of student directory information for every first-grader enrolled in the Houston Independent School District.
We received the names, addresses, dates of birth and telephone numbers for 12,141 first graders.
And there, in a nutshell, is the problem with declaring student information “Directory Information.” Anyone can request it and get it. And there’s nothing that stops a school district from including other information as “directory information,” such as your child’s grade point average, height, weight, etc. It is solely at the district’s discretion.
Houston ISD has recently changed its policy and will no longer release the information to just anyone, though. According to Davis, they will now only release the information to military recruiters, publicly elected officials, alumni groups, and student reunion committees.
If Houston parents don’t want that information released to those entities, then they need to actively opt-out of directory information sharing by submitting a form to the school district.
But note that most districts continue to list a variety of information types that they consider “directory information,” and continue to share it freely UNLESS PARENTS OPT OUT.
Read more about various Texas school districts on Click2Houston.
And all parents of students in the U.S. should read World Privacy Forum’s new resource on opting your child out of directory information sharing.
For previous posts on this site about the importance of opting out of directory information, see:
- Selling your child’s personal information (2010)
- Who is seeing your kids’ school data? (2010)
- National Opt-Out Campaign Informs Parents How to Protect the Privacy of their Children’s School Records (2011)
- Protecting Your Child’s Personal Information at School: A Comment on an FTC Guidance
- If parents don’t opt-out: FERPA Sunday edition (2012)
- Parents: Start 2013 by protecting your child’s education privacy (2012)
- WPF urges parents to turn in a school opt-out to protect their kids’ privacy; new materials (2014)
- PSA: Opt-Out 2014: Protect Children
- Keep Your Kid’s Info Safe: Opt Them Out of School Directory Information Sharing (2015)
Unfortunately, my posts from 2006-2009 are no longer available online, but yes, I have been trying to get more parents aware of this issue for a loooong time.
Note that the directory information issue also applies to colleges and universities, so do not be complacent just because your child is no longer in k-12. See, for example, these past posts:
- Student fights to change university privacy policies
- FERPA’s “directory information” inconsistent with privacy protection
- COLUMN: Students’ private information available for anyone to see
What are you waiting for? If you don’t opt out at the beginning of the school year, it may be too late for the entire school year. Get busy.