Does ‘cloud storage’ affect student privacy rights?

19 Feb

Moi wrote about student privacy in Who has access to student records?

Moi discussed the The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act balancing act:

Schools all over the country are challenged by students who are violent, disruptive, and sometimes dangerous. Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times staff reporter reports in the Seattle Times article, Student-privacy laws complicate schools’ ability to prevent attacks which was about an unprovoked assault in a high school restroom which almost killed two students.

Five months before she allegedly attacked two schoolmates with a knife, nearly killing one, a Snohomish High School student underwent counseling after she threatened to kill another student’s boyfriend.

The 15-year-old Snohomish girl was allowed to return to school only after she presented proof she had attended counseling.

The earlier threats would have never been made public if the information wasn’t contained in court documents charging the girl with first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault in last Monday’s attack.

Some Snohomish parents were surprised to learn of the earlier threat and have expressed concern that they weren’t notified.

But student information, including mental-health records, is tightly held by school districts because of federal privacy laws. The district says it cannot even discuss whether counselors or teachers were made aware of the earlier threats because of privacy laws.

The case underscores the delicate and complicated balancing act faced by schools in their efforts to meet the educational and privacy rights of individual students, as well as their need to ensure the safety of the larger student body. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016643796_schoolsafety30m.html

There is a complex intertwining of laws which often prevent school officials from disclosing much about students.

According to Fact Sheet 29: Privacy in Education: Guide for Parents and Adult-Age Students,Revised September 2010 the major laws governing disclosure about student records are:

What are the major federal laws that govern the privacy of education records?

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) 20 USC 1232g (1974)

  • Protection of Pupil’s Rights Amendments (PPRA) 20 USC 1232h (1978)

  • No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. L. 107-110, 115 STAT. 1425 (January 2002)

  • USA Patriot Act, P.L. 107-56 (October 26, 2001)

  • Privacy Act of 1974, 5 USC Part I, Ch. 5, Subch. 11, Sec. 552

  • Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act (Pub. L. 106-386)

FERPA is the best known and most influential of the laws governing student privacy. Oversight and enforcement of FERPA rests with the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA has recently undergone some changes since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act and the USA Patriot Act…. https://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs29-education.htm

https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/the-federal-educational-rights-and-privacy-act-balancing-act/

Still, schools collect a lot of information about students.

Mike Bock wrote the intriguing Education Week article, Districts Move to the Cloud to Power Up, Save Money:

There are serious questions and concerns, however, about moving computer operations to the cloud. Chief among those worries is the security of sensitive data, such as student records. That concern alone has led some district information-technology leaders to remain hesitant about moving in that direction….

Bandwidth Needs Grow

But for districts with the bandwidth infrastructure in place, experts say cloud approaches offer lower costs and less time spent on maintenance. Since many cloud-based applications are offered either for free or for a monthly subscription rate, upfront costs for software are typically lower than the standard model of purchasing software and installing it across the district….

Privacy Concerns

But there is a trade-off. If a district puts its student-information system in a cloud environment, the cloud provider has access to information about all students.

Districts need to be protective and aware of that reality and must follow requirements outlined in state and federal policy, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that requires that websites obtain parents’ consent before collecting personal details about users, such as home addresses or email addresses, from children younger than 13.

“You want to make sure you understand the company you’re dealing with and look into how they deal with privacy concerns,” says Atkinson-Shorey.

Paul Potter, the director of technological infrastructure for the 3,150-student Tomah, Wis., school system, says districts that have staff members with computer-programming backgrounds might want to consider developing their own cloud applications if they find that their needs aren’t being met by some of the more popular cloud-computing providers….

http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2013/02/06/02cloud.h06.html?tkn=PYMF4hhA6EcyMvzcq4T6AaBDFNeT6fynaPVn&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es

School districts have to balance the rights of students to an education with the need to know of other parties.

Resources:

FERPA General Guidance for Students

http://ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html

No Child Left Behind A Parents Guide

http://ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/nclbguide/parentsguide.pdf

Related:

Data mining in education                                                                  https://drwilda.com/2012/07/19/data-mining-in-education/

Who has access to student records?                                 https://drwilda.com/2012/06/11/who-has-access-to-student-records/

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2 Responses to “Does ‘cloud storage’ affect student privacy rights?”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Fordham Center on Law and Information Policy study: Cloud computing poses privacy risks for school information | drwilda - December 15, 2013

    […] There are serious questions and concerns, however, about moving computer operations to the cloud. Chief among those worries is the security of sensitive data, such as student records. That concern alone has led some district information-technology leaders to remain hesitant about moving in that direction…. Bandwidth Needs Grow But for districts with the bandwidth infrastructure in place, experts say cloud approaches offer lower costs and less time spent on maintenance. Since many cloud-based applications are offered either for free or for a monthly subscription rate, upfront costs for software are typically lower than the standard model of purchasing software and installing it across the district…. Privacy Concerns But there is a trade-off. If a district puts its student-information system in a cloud environment, the cloud provider has access to information about all students. Districts need to be protective and aware of that reality and must follow requirements outlined in state and federal policy, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that requires that websites obtain parents’ consent before collecting personal details about users, such as home addresses or email addresses, from children younger than 13…. http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2013/02/06/02cloud.h06.html?tkn=PYMF4hhA6EcyMvzcq4T6AaBDFNeT6fynaPVn&cmp=clp-edweek&intc=es School districts have to balance the rights of students to an education with the need to know of other parties. https://drwilda.com/2013/02/19/does-cloud-storage-affect-student-privacy-rights/ […]

  2. U.S. Department of Education guidelines on student privacy | drwilda - February 26, 2014

    […] Moi wrote about cloud privacy concerns in Does ‘cloud storage’ affect student privacy rights? https://drwilda.com/2013/02/19/does-cloud-storage-affect-student-privacy-rights/ […]

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