State limits access to students’ personal info

The New York State Asembly this week announced the passage of legislation that would authorize parents of students to determine who can have access to certain private information that is used to identify their children. In addition, the measure requires SED to develop forms to authorize parents to prohibit the disclosure of their children’s personally identifiable student information.

The bill (A.7872, Nolan) would empower the parents of students in pre-K through 12th grade to determine whether third party requests to access their children’s student information will be granted. It also provides exceptions that permit access to certain student information in cases that require compliance with the law, a court order, subpoena, state and federal audits or health and safety emergencies.

The bill’s sponsors: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Education Committee Chairman Catherine Nolan and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell said the legislation addresses concerns that have emerged following the decision by the State Education Department (SED) to share the personally identifiable information of students in grades K through 12 with commercial vendors who will store the data for use by SED.

“In this day and age of high speed computers, data mining and identity theft, we have to ensure that our son’s or daughter’s student information does not fall into the wrong hands,” said Silver. “This bill will require that the information kept by schools about students remains private and will be disclosed only with the consent and knowledge of a student’s parents.”

“The good old days when student information was stored in wooden filing cabinets and primarily shared by mail with college admission offices, scholarship boards and potential employers are long gone,” said Nolan. “This measure addresses the risks of the computerized world with safeguards that will keep the names, social security numbers, fingerprints and other personal information used to identify students confidential, and prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of this highly personal information.”

“As a member of the house with a long-standing commitment to education and the future of children, I believe we need to enact measures that protect the personally identifiable information of students,” said O’Donnell. “This bill provides a simple solution to a complicated problem that will shield young people from the consequences of an unauthorized disclosure of their student information just as they are beginning the journey of life.”

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