Letter Template / Talking Points: Parental Rights and Student Privacy

The following letter gives some talking points concerning parental rights and student privacy as they relate to education technology and the FBI warning.

NOTE: This letter is Idaho specific in parts and must be tailored to fit your state. It is a letter used as a follow up that began with sending the school board the FBI warning. Phone calls were then made. And to finally ensure this matter was brought to their attention, a personal appearance was deemed necessary. This school board allows a person three minutes to speak on their topic.

Dear ___________________________________ ,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you last night and for your attentive listening.

To reiterate the major points:

1) The FBI Public Service Announcement (PSA) concerning education technology security and student data privacy was not brought to your attention to point to any deficits in the districts attempt to keep data secure. The expectation is that you are putting in place all the best practices, as they have been identified thus far. There is no reason to believe this is not true. But there are two things I wanted to bring to the boards attention, Third-Party Doctrine and Interoperability.

2) Third-Party Doctrine came to be accepted in the United States with the loosening of FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) under the Bush and Obama administrations. Essentially, they took a law meant to ensure parental notification and consent and expanded “redisclosure” of personally identifiable information (PII) without the consent of parents or eligible students, under “specified conditions.”

There are 16 “specific conditions” including records requests by “contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions” — Third-Party vendors. And the rules allow “disclosure to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to (A) Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; (B) Administer student aid programs; or (C) Improve instruction.” These are not just trusted public institutions.

3) Interoperability allows information systems from different agencies or departments to share data without restrictions. As I explained, during State Superintendent Tom Luna’s administration not only did Idaho complete its instillation of the longitudinal data system, our state participated in developing data sharing strategies — interoperability tactics.

The Idaho State Board of Education worked along side Mr. Luna with the Department of Labor and Department of Motor Vehicles to facilitate a system that could track a student through school and into the workforce. Idaho also participated in building data sharing capacity between the states of Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii.

Additionally, other states were also working on interoperability issues. Bills have already come before Congress to link federal databases to form a completely interoperable P20 system (preschool to college to career). Thus far, they have passed the House and are sitting in a Senate committee.

There has been a public trust that a reasonable expectation of privacy would be maintained in our public school system. The school board and administration can help maintain that trust by simply increasing public awareness of the problems. A good place to start would be with the suggestions to parents provided by the FBI.

Thank you again for your time and attention. Please feel free to contact me any time for more information, or discussion.


Change that will benefit children will require EFFORT & PERSISTENCE.

Thank you!