We live in a day and age where information is readily available at our fingertips. New technologies have permitted us to do many things quickly and efficiently. Public schools gather student information from enrollment forms and store it in a secure manner. Unfortunately, we hear daily of breaches in the data held by large companies and there is always a risk of any data being compromised. Data from Utah’s schools are entered into a district and state database maintained and secured by the Utah State Office of Education. The Utah State Board of Education and Utah State Office of Education have rules and policies that protect the security of individual student data and do not allow for the release of identifiable student data. They, along with the Morgan School District Board of Education, have policies requiring extreme caution and a high level of security with student and teacher data. Together they insist on proper care and vigilance in the effort to secure and protect the sensitive personal data of students and teachers. They also recognize the delicate balance of that privacy with the proper transparency and availability of aggregated, non-identifiable data necessary to provide accountability. With so much data collected, you might be happy to know there are additional protections. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. Parents may inspect and review their child’s education records maintained by the Morgan School District and may have a copy of the records upon request for a nominal fee. Parents have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading and have a responsibility to notify the school when changes in residence and telephone number take place. Schools must also have written permission from the parent in order to release any information from a student’s education record (e.g., address, schedule, phone number, grades) unless the information has been designated as directory information but still must allow parents the opportunity to opt out. FERPA does allow schools to disclose student records, without consent, to appropriate parties with legitimate educational or judicial interests. You might also be interested to know that the Protection of Pupil Rights Act requires schools to make instructional materials available for inspection by parents if those materials will be used in connection with an education-funded survey, analysis or evaluation in which their children may participate. It also ensures that schools obtain written parental consent before students participate in any education-funded survey, analysis or evaluation that reveals information concerning: political affiliations; mental and psychological problems; sex behavior and attitudes; illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating behavior; critical appraisals of close family relationships; legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, e.g., lawyers, physicians, and ministers; income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for financial assistance); and religious affiliations or beliefs. I hope this information has been helpful and provided some clarity. The Morgan School District recognizes that a parent has the primary responsibility for the education of his/her child and that the district is in a secondary and supportive role to parents. Please contact me if you would like more information or explanation.
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