Schools increasingly provide students with more health services. Health clinics, counselors on site, administration of drugs, and vaccinations are among the types of healthcare offered on school campuses ranging from kindergarten through graduate school. Given that schools may have sensitive health information, what law covers health record privacy for school records? The answer is important. It is also messy, because two laws can apply to this information. In some cases, no privacy law applies to the health records.
One privacy problem in FERPA today is the ease of acquiring students’ sensitive educational records by third parties. Under FERPA as it is now, Directory Information about students is allowed to be shared with third parties without parental or student consent. In order to stop the sharing of directory information, parents of students younger than 18 must take affirmative steps to opt their children out of directory information sharing. Students 18 and older must take steps to opt themselves out. FERPA Directory Information rules apply at the college and post-graduate level, too. Currently, FERPA opt out is mired in an outdated approach that needs to be updated and reformed from top to bottom.
President Obama has announced that the White House will propose legislation for educational privacy reform. The administration needs to start with the basics and get FERPA right once and for all, because currently, FERPA is not doing the job it was intended to do. Here’s a backgrounder on this educational privacy cornerstone.
Q: Why is my kid’s email and home address being sold on a marketing list? I didn’t give permission for this information to be released! How did this happen? This kind of sharing could happen unless you proactively opt out of allowing schools to share the information they keep on your kids such as their
Educational Privacy and FERPA — The WPF filed detailed comments on the U.S. Department of Education\’s notice of proposed changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. WPF has concerns that the increased sharing of student information that the proposed rule will allow will diminish student privacy in a significant and permanent way. WPF is urging the DOE to amend its proposed rule to establish increased privacy protections for sensitive student information held in databases and elsewhere.