Guidance for districts on communicating about student data privacy

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The U.S. Department of Education has new guidance for schools and districts on how to keep parents and students better informed about what student data is collected and how it is used. The new guidance recommends that schools and districts provide parents with information, such as:

  • What information are you collecting about students?
  • Why are you collecting this information?
  • How is the information protected?
  • Do you share any personal information with third parties? If so, with whom and for what purpose(s)?
  • Who should parents contact if they have questions about your data practices?

To respond to parental inquiries, the guidance recommends that schools:

  • Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Review parental questions, concerns and suggestions in a thoughtful and careful manner.
  • Respond to parental or student requests in a timely manner.
  • Periodically review old inquiries and resolutions to evaluate and improve communication and transparency efforts.

The guidance also advises schools to make information about their student data policies clear, consistent and easy to find on their public website.

The Department’s Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) also has announced a new companion website that includes a variety of resources and information regarding the federal laws FPCO administers, and to help keep the public informed about the privacy and use of student records. The new site is aimed at being more user-friendly to help school officials, parents and students find the information they are seeking.

For more information on the work of the Family Policy Compliance Office, see its website here.

 

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