Friday, December 20, 2013

PTA and student privacy

A recent on-line article by KUOW interviewed me on the topic of student privacy in light of the Seattle Times being granted access to student records in partnership with the State.  I wanted to elaborate on the Washington State PTA’s views, and our National PTA’s views, on student privacy.

Parents assume that confidential information about their children is going to be kept confidential.  One of the challenges that parents have in our state, however, is that Washington defines public disclosure very broadly.  This can be a good thing and it can also be a bad thing depending on what information is released and how it is used.  In this specific instance, the State Department of Education willingly shared information with the Seattle Times as part of their research studies program called “Education Lab.” 

It has been determined that the information was released without a public disclosure request and the request was granted for the purpose of research.  This recent action highlights the challenges that our legislators face in upholding the ability of public or private entities access to information and the need to protect our children from unwanted exposure.  Our National organization has printed a white sheet on student privacy and I have included the link below.  Our legislative team will be discussing this issue and pursuing a course of action over the next few weeks leading up to the legislative session. 

Heather Gillette
President, Washington State PTA

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