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Law would control data collected by school districts

By Billy Hesterman daily Herald - | May 14, 2014

Rep. Jacob Anderegg is looking to give greater protection to student data collected by Utah’s public education institutions. 

Anderegg has opened a bill file for legislation called the “Student Privacy Act” which would provide parents more control of the information that schools collect on their students. 

“Basically, it sets up the policy and protocol and how a student’s information is shared,” Anderegg said. 

The Lehi-based Republican said he hopes his legislation will accomplish three goals. The first would be to provide a mechanism for parents to give an approval for a school district to share information gathered about their child. Second, the act would set how the information gathered can be stored and secured. Third, it would set procedures for how the data can be shared or accessed.

“The bill is designed to secure students’ information,” Anderegg said in an interview with the Daily Herald. “It doesn’t preclude a parent from saying they can or cannot collect information. Some information needs to be gathered, it just makes it so it has to go through a notification and disclosure process with parental approval.” 

Anderegg said that he understood districts and the state office of education would need some data in order to properly keep records and handle day to day operations of a school. But he said his bill would be drafted to say anything beyond those essential items would need parental approval. 

John Patten, a spokesman with Alpine School District, explained that the district gathers only information that it needs to verify that the student is who they claim to be. The registration form from the district seeks a student’s name, Social Security number, date of birth, location of birth, address, parents’ names, phone number, ethnicity and race. 

Patten said he has never heard of push back from parents on providing the registration information to the districts but said he has seen some concern from parents about the district sharing testing data with the state office of education. Patten said some parents chose to opt their students out of the testing because that information was being shared with the state. 

Anderegg’s legislation would potentially change that process as his bill would seek to have parents sign off on the information shared before it is transferred to the state. 

Anderegg said he plans to meet with the many stakeholders that are interested in this issue. He said he has plans to meet with the state school board on the matter and also intends to discuss the legislation with the PTA and the UEA prior to running it through the legislature.

“We are far from a done deal. We’ve got a lot of stuff to go through,” Anderegg said. “I’m just trying to craft the bill so there is a clear direction in how the information is gathered, stored, secured, shared and accessed.” 

The legislation is set to be considered in the 2015 legislative session. 


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