At last Friday’s state board meeting, the board realized something they hadn’t known during this past week when they were responding to everyone who emailed in about the FERPA stuff. They didn’t know there are separate federal FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) laws and state FERPA laws that contradict each other in some areas (even though at least one board member was in the legislature when the Utah FERPA bill passed and the USOE has published an in-service brochure solely about this Utah Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Anissa Wardell sent the below letter to the board this morning, and then at the meeting, Gayle Ruzicka was present and able to help them understand some of the differences between these conflicting laws. After Gayle’s explanation to the board, Board President Debra Roberts then made a motion to form a committee with legislators and work on the relevant conflicts in the law and ensure we get this resolved.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in last week to help raise this issue’s awareness. Hopefully things will be properly resolved now that the board understands that there is indeed a conflict.
Dear Board Members,
I wrote to many of you in regards to my concerns about the changes you are making to Utah’s FERPA (I called it this because USOE employees have stated on numerous occasions that this is what it is known by). My concern is over the new wording that you have listed in lines 34-40.
I have done a great deal of research and from what I take away from the UERPA and from the federal FERPA is that we need to be more specific in the wording we use.
#1 – Explicitly define “Student Information” – What is the information?
#2 – Explicitly define “Education Records” -What is the record?
#3 – Be explicit about what is being protected.
#4 – Be explicit about how it is being protected.
“UERPA” uses the word “student information” and the federal FERPA uses the term “education record”. Essentially what we have now uses these terms interchangeably, when they should not be. There should be a differentiation between the two terms, i.e.: student information = directory information, education record = aggregate information. The issue I see here is that we need to be able to share aggregate information, allow parents to opt out of directory information, and keep students personally identifiable information private and protected.
I would be happy to discuss the issues that I see with making these two terms mean the same thing and how we can change them to better protect our children/students.