Blog: Student Data Privacy Articles

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Helping School Districts Address FERPA Compliance

The conversation surrounding student privacy often comes down to safety. Parents want assurance that their children are safe while at school, both physically and virtually. They want a greater understanding of what is going on in the classroom, what digital tools are being used, what information is being collected from them, and for what purpose.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law written to protect the unauthorized sharing of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in student education records. It allows parents the right to access their child’s education records, to have those records amended, and to have control over the release of any of their child’s PII. FERPA spells out exactly what schools can and cannot do with student data in their own systems as well as the limitations imposed on third parties, such as edtech vendors, acting on behalf of schools and districts.

FERPA Regulations and PII

In recent years, in response to parental concerns about information security, many states have passed student data privacy laws that provide greater privacy protections than FERPA does. However, FERPA establishes a minimum federal standard that governs the privacy of education records and the PII they contain for all students in public educational institutions that receive federal funds.[1]

FERPA regulations contain a “school official exception” for consent. This exception allows school districts to disclose FERPA-protected information for vendor services that would otherwise be performed by school employees. However, these edtech vendors must have “a legitimate educational interest, be under the direct control of the school, and not use the information for any other reason than for which it was disclosed.”[2]

Managing Student Privacy

Ensuring FERPA compliance and managing student privacy is no simple task. Implementing a successful student privacy initiative takes a lot of work. It involves considerable amounts of time, commitment, and resources— three things most schools and districts are already running short of. It is vital that educators understand the importance of student privacy and make concerted efforts to ensure student information is safe, secure and protected.

Fortunately, there is a tool to help districts manage the process of FERPA compliance, keep student data safe and secure, and ensure that vendors are properly handling sensitive student information. Student data privacy experts have developed EdPrivacy, a software platform that vets the safety and security of online applications and digital resources based on compliance with FERPA, COPPA, and state privacy requirements. EdPrivacy takes the worry out of FERPA compliance by managing the entire process for schools and districts.
 
Designed to protect students from data abuse, EdPrivacy:
•    Ensures that schools and districts are in complete compliance with federal and state regulations
•    Engages parents in the privacy conversation and ensures their participation
•    Lessens the risk of costly fines and penalties associated with the mismanagement of student information. 

EdPrivacy assists administrators, IT staff and teachers to proactively manage their student privacy obligations with transparency and accountability. Specifically, EdPrivacy helps parents to understand if vendors will allow them to review their student’s data, amend the data, and determine with whom the data is shared. Requests for the data must have the written consent of parents or students over 18. EdPrivacy also maintains records of PII disclosures for school and parental review.

By working with the trusted data privacy experts at EdPrivacy, schools and districts minimize the risk of violating FERPA and other student data privacy laws. Take a proactive approach to safeguarding your students’ online presence and instill parental confidence that the district is adequately protecting their student’s data.

Sign up for a free trial at https://educationframework.com/services/edprivacy 

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[1] https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/sites/default/files/resource_document/file/SRO_FAQs_2-5-19_0.pdf 
[2] http://www.siia.net/blog/index/Post/77426/SIIA-Joins-Other-Organizations-to-Call-for-Guidance-on-Intersection-of-COPPA-and-FERPA--Dec%2026

 

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