Back To School And Student Data Privacy

A few folks have been asking me to address the recently passed and signed NC law dealing with student data collection and privacy matters. That law sprang from SB 815 and which is titled Ensuring Privacy of Student Records.

As people have been attending school orientations, I’ve had several who have expressed to me that they were given no information about student privacy and data. Indeed, I didn’t receive anything separate or specific at our back to school night either. What they and myself were looking for pertains to this section of SB 815:

PART II.  INCREASE TRANSPARENCY ON STUDENT PRIVACY ISSUES

SECTION 2.  Article 29 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 115C‑402.15.  Parental notification regarding rights to student records and opt‑out opportunities.

(a)        Annual Parental Notification. – Local boards of education shall annually provide parents, by a method reasonably designed to provide actual notice, information on parental rights under State and federal law with regards to student records and opt‑out opportunities for disclosure of directory information as provided under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and notice and opt‑out opportunities for surveys covered by the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, 20 U.S.C. § 1232h.

(b)        Notice Content. – The notice shall include information on parental rights under State and federal law to:

(1)        Inspect and review education records.

(2)        Seek to amend inaccurate education records.

(3)        Provide written consent prior to disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records, except as otherwise provided by law. Information shall be included on disclosure of directory information and parental rights to opt out of disclosure of directory information.

(4)        File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

(5)        Receive notice and the opportunity to opt out prior to the participation of the student in a protected information survey under 20 U.S.C. § 1232h.”

 

I had hoped I would get such a notification, but didn’t think it would really happen. In lieu of a specific notification of parental rights on student data, what we did get (in Wake County at least) was the annual copy of the Student/Parent handbook.  The section dealing with student records is called “Maintenance, Review and Release of Student Records”.
UPDATE: Comparing last year’s handbook to this years shows this section is exactly the same.

Parents should review this section thoroughly. I also encourage them to routinely drop in and request to see the file on your child or children. According to the handbook, this has to be scheduled and done in the presence of the principal or assistant principal.

It also has a section on amending student records. That section is very long and requires amendments be made in writing to “the superintendent or designee”. This request for amendment will be put into the child’s record but gives no indication on how that information is noted.  The superintendent or designee has to concur with the proposed changes in order to make them happen. If that superintendent or designee refuses to make the change, the parent have to appeal it to the board of education. That appeal has to be done in 5 school days time.

A student’s file may contain, but is not limited to, the following per the handbook:

A photograph of the student, a personal data sheet, achievement, scholastic, aptitude and other standardized test scores; literacy assessments; a transcript; a certified birth certificate; immunization records; emergency medical and other health data; and family background information.

There is no opt-out mentioned in the section about student records.
I am not a lawyer so do not take this advice as such, but my recommendation is for parents to write a letter to their principal and include a copy of SB 815. Note Section C of Part I in your letter and ask they confirm in writing that these items are not being collected:

(c)        Restricting on Student Data Collection. – The following information about a student or a student’s family shall not be collected in nor reported as part of the student data system:

(1)        Biometric information.

(2)        Political affiliation.

(3)        Religion.

(4)        Voting history.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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