School Data Privacy

Does Your Child's School Protect Their Private Information?

If keeping your personal data private is a concern, then you should be especially concerned about your child’s.  Do you know how your child’s school system handles their private personal information?

You may have already received a form to read and fill out about FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act).  What’s that?  “It’s an important federal law designed to help keep information about your child private.”  commonsensemedia.org

Things you should know about FERPA:

  • It was passed in 1974
  • It protects access to and privacy of student educational records
  • When it was passed, it meant students and parents were given access to a student’s “educational record” and they could amend records that were incorrect
  • It also set rules about when a student’s records could be shared by schools
  • With today’s digital record keeping, FERPA has not kept up with the digital age; it was last updated in 2002
  • Currently the law is vague about what it covers as “educational records”; it does not include students’ online activity, web searches or creation of online profiles

Today more and more schools are using technology in their classrooms.  “If it’s digital, it uses data, and that means your kid’s information is more valuable—and more vunerable—than ever. Schools need to safeguard student privacy as fiercely as a mama bear —and you, as the parent, need to know how they’re doing it.” commonsensemedia.org

Questions to ask your child’s school system:  (find answers at commonsensemedia.org)

  • Does the educational software or apps used protect my child’s privacy?
  • What information do you collect and how is it stored?
  • Who can access your list of students and their contact information?
  • What is the procedure to provide consent for my student to use school software?
  • What is school policy when students use their own individual devices?

With the digital age upon us, keeping our data private is a concern for all of us.  Keeping you children’s data private is vital. 

Watch this video from the U.S. Department of Education on questions to ask your school system about data privacy.

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