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House moves to limit access to student records

By HEATHER NELSON
KU Statehouse Wire Service

TOPEKA — The House preliminarily passed the Student Data Privacy Act, which limits what information from a student’s record can be disclosed. The vote passed 119-4.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month but the bill will return to the Senate because of a few changes.

“With this bill we’re creating a higher standard than what is currently in place within the federal guidelines, and it’s a good step in the right direction, ” said Amanda Grosserode, R-Lenexa.

During the floor debate, Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview, offered two amendments to the bill: One that requires K-12 students to show proof of citizenship at enrollment; and the removal of longitudinal data reporting.

Rothlisberg said the ultimate goal was to get a head count, especially for funding. Rep. Louis Ruiz, D-Kansas City, disagreed with Rothlisberg’s terms and amendments, which caused a short immigration debate.

“Compiling data is one thing, but making it personal and being vindictive and hateful is another thing,” Ruiz said.

Both amendments failed to pass.

Senate Bill 367 limits access to student data to legal guardians and authorized personnel. Student data is information found on a student’s educational record, which can include date of birth and other demographic data.

The bill allows for student data to be shared with authorized personnel of the school district, state board, and legal guardians. Data can also be shared with state and educational agencies that share an agreement with schools.

Only aggregate data that does not identify students will be disclosed to third parties.  Individual data will only be shared with parents or guardians.

Amendments to the legislation express that no test or survey will include questions about a student’s or parent’s beliefs or practices on various issues including sex, family life and religion. And in the case of a security breach, a parent or legal guardian will be notified immediately and there would be an investigation of the breach.

Final House action on the bill is expected Thursday.

Heather Nelson is a University of Kansas junior from Omaha, Neb., majoring in journalism.

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