National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Tensions between student privacy and excessive secrecy may be heating up

From NFOIC:  COLUMBIA, Mo — Will there be an onslaught of new state legislation that aims to moot the impact of a relaxed Department of Education regulation that gives educational researchers access to data to track individual students’ progress?

The Student Press Law Center, press associations and some open are bracing for legislative overreach at the state level that might result in attempts to respond to the Department of Education’s relaxed regulation.

Most educational records about individual student are already covered by privacy protections under the federal FERPA law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

But responding to educational researchers’ concerns that their work is hampered if they cannot track how individual students perform from year to year, the federal Department of Education loosened its interpretation of FERPA’s privacy protections in January 2012, by making some individually identifiable data available only to academic researchers, not to journalists or the general public.  

A New York legislator is pushing for a statutory enactment to address what he says are privacy concerns that have arisen from the Department of Educational new FERPA interpretation.

Will there be similar, or even more far-reaching moves, in your state?

Read more on the New York legislation in this article from Newsday: