Impact of Parents’ Bills of Rights on Student Data Collection Future

With a growing number of states enacting or contemplating a “parents’ bill of rights,” K-12 educational institutions and their suppliers may find themselves facing new responsibilities concerning data privacy, data aggregation, and data accessibility.

While some of these fresh laws simply reiterate existing federal and state legal safeguards, others carry more weight. A few impose broad additional state-level data privacy stipulations on top of federal regulations, potentially necessitating school districts and vendors to reassess their compliance strategies.

North Carolina introduced its parents’ bill of rights, SB 49, in August 2023. The bill enhances parents’ access to educational and health-related materials concerning their child’s education.

Under SB 49, public school districts must establish policies that furnish parents with details regarding parental engagement in school affairs, legal rights concerning their child’s education, and resources for student accomplishments. Additionally, schools must furnish parents with notifications on student health, both physical and mental, and other pertinent information within specific timeframes after a parent’s inquiry.

How might SB 49 influence the realm of surveys?

Schools nationwide regularly administer a variety of surveys to students, covering topics such as safety, online learning, or demographic shifts. If a survey delves into protected information areas like political beliefs, mental health, or income, federal regulations such as the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment come into play.

In circumstances where a survey funded by federal resources touches upon safeguarded data, parental approval is mandatory before its execution. Should the survey be voluntary and not federally funded, parents’ rights are more restricted, typically entailing prior notification, survey materials review, and the option to exclude the student from participating.

School districts and their survey facilitators understand these norms well. However, the expansion of parental control over surveys by SB 49 and akin parents’ bills of rights underscores the requirement for affirmative parental consent before students can engage in any survey encompassing protected data. Parents must authorize their child’s participation, signifying a significant shift in survey administration protocols.

Moreover, schools must allocate time for parental examination of protected information surveys, usually ten days ahead of the survey rollout, and receive explicit parental consent for the student to participate.

Failure to secure affirmative parental consent impedes students from partaking in surveys containing protected data.

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