Sen. Vitter Introduces Bill to Return Control of Education Records to Parents

AP Photo/The Daily Gazette, Marc Schultz
AP Photo/Marc Schultz

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a bill Thursday that would return control of student education records back to parents and their children.

The Student Privacy Protection Act would enact new guidelines for schools and educational agencies that typically release students’ education records to third parties.

Additionally, Vitter’s legislation would provide privacy protections to students who are homeschooled.

“Parents are right to feel betrayed when schools collect and release information about their kids,” Vitter said in a press release announcing the measure. “This is real, sensitive information – and it doesn’t belong to some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. We need to make sure that parents and students have complete control over their own information.”

According to the press statement, the measure would:

  • Reinstate protections originally outlined under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by clarifying who can access student data and what information is accessible.
  • Require educational agencies to gain prior consent from students or parents and implement measures to ensure records remain private. Any educational agency, school, or third party that fails to get consent will be held liable through monetary fines.
  • Extend FERPA’s protections to ensure records of homeschooled students are treated equally.
  • Prohibit educational agencies, schools, and the Secretary of Education from including personally identifiable information obtained from federal or state agencies through data matches in student data.

“Senator Vitter’s bill is a giant step forward in protecting children and families from corporate exploitation. For far too long, Congress has favored policies that treat children like human capital, a means to an end,” Emmett McGroarty, education director for American Principles Project, tells Breitbart News. “And it has repeatedly failed to stand at the Constitutional line to protect the states from federal overreach. Now, parents are rising up to demand that Congress protect their children.”

Louisiana parent activist Anna Arthurs said, “Senator Vitter’s Student Privacy Protection Act will help to alleviate the concerns of students and parents, while restoring the privacy and security of data that all students should have. Hopefully, it will also send a message to the U.S. Department of Education that the authority to implement amendments to federal laws lies with Congress and not the ED.”

Michael Smith, Esq., President of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said in a statement:

The Student Privacy Protection act protects student privacy by requiring Federally-funded education programs to receive parental consent before releasing personally identifiable information on students. It prevents states that receive Federal education funds from using any type of personally-identifiable data in a longitudinal data program. It restores protections to FERPA which were gutted by the Department of Education’s rule change in 2011. Finally, it ensures that if a school has personally identifiable information on homeschool students, that information must also be protected, something which FERPA does not currently do. HSLDA is pleased to support this bill.

“Technological developments, Common Core, and regulations from the Obama administration are compromising protections for student data, worrying parents across the country,” said Glyn Wright of Eagle Forum. “Senator Vitter’s bill makes securing that data a priority and would put in place valuable safeguards for educational information.”


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