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News

Volume 65 Number 1

New state law will protect students’ school information

by Sara Platnick - 2014-10-09

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California is poised to become the first state to enact a law thoroughly limiting the amount of student information that could be collected by schools through technology.

While other states, including Louisiana, Virginia and New Hampshire, have laws in place to limit the amount of information that schools can collect and share about students, California is set to pass the most comprehensive law limiting data collection and sharing from schools.

As more and more school districts use different technological devices for educational purposes, schools are able to collect more and more information about students, including behavioral patterns in the classroom or purchasing patterns in the cafeteria.

Chadwick has recently expanded its own 1:1 program, using iPads in the classroom to further the academic progress of the Village School [Editor’s note: For more about the developing 1:1 program, see the article below].

At the moment, no federal law exists to limit how schools use information collected through technology.

Because the development of technology in schools is so recent, state legislatures have not been able to enact laws to keep up.

In California, a law has been passed by the legislature that creates a widespread limit to what schools can do with the information they collect.

The bill has yet to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which would turn the proposal into law. Brown has yet to take a position on the issue, and if he doesn’t take a side soon, the law will be enacted in the coming weeks.

The law was passed because of growing concern from parents about the possibility of confidential information being shared about students, such as a learning disability, disciplinary problems or family trauma.

At Chadwick, however, the law is not expected to represent any significant change for the administration. “[Sharing student files] is out of the question,” said Upper School Diretor Mark Wiedenmann.

“Why would a school do that?”

Legislators hope the law becomes a preventative measure that would keep schools from misusing information that they collect, such as selling information about students to potential colleges.

According to a recent story in the New York Times: “The California bill prohibits companies from selling, disclosing or using for marketing purposes students’ online searches, text messages, photos, voice recordings, biometric data, location information, food purchases, political or religious information, digital documents or any kind of student identification code.

The idea is to prevent companies from using information about students for any activity not intended by schools.”

The law, however, does have an exception for selling information for research purposes. Chadwick, however does not plan to sell or disclose student records for any purpose, as they already have their own policy on student confidentiality.

Chadwick’s policy states: “Once a student has received a diploma from Chadwick School...a student’s disciplinary history at the school will be expunged.

“As a result, once a student has graduated, neither the graduate nor the school will be obligated to report any disciplinary actions to other institutions or agencies.”

The law would also be an update to current confidentiality law, since no law exists related to sharing confidential information about students that was collected through technology.

The only federal law about the confidentiality of student files is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

That law, however, has not been updated for almost 40 years, and many lawmakers believe that the act has not kept pace with the use of digital file sharing.

Confidentiality laws are currently centered around information kept in physical file cabinets, even though many schools are converting information about students from physical to digital files.

Additionally, Chadwick requires that all seniors waive their FERPA right to see recommendations submitted by teachers and faculty to colleges, in order to maintain strict confidentiality during the college admissions process.


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california, state, law, student, information, technology, collect, sharing, school, chadwick, however, any, purpose, confidentiality, file


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