Louisiana’s Student Data Privacy Law: A Look Into The Future of What Student Data Privacy Laws Will Look Like In Your State.
By Bill Miles | March 12, 2019
In 2014, Louisiana passed the nation’s strictest Student Data Privacy Law (L.A.R.S 17:3914 (Act 837 of 2014)). In passing this, Louisiana lawmakers were responding to parent concerns as to how the state and federal government as well as researchers were using student data. Not only does the law broadly define personally identifiable data but it also includes strict penalties such as fines and jail time if a teacher or administrator violates the law. As a result, schools in Louisiana have had to scramble to educate their teachers, staff and parents, and put in place policies and procedures to ensure compliance.
Fast forward five years…the Louisiana Department of Education and its schools have risen to the occasion and effectively implemented this strict law. The resources the state has generated provide valuable guidance to any school that wants to both improve and ensure the management and protection of student data. For example, schools now pay more attention to what constitutes as Directory Information, to the terms and conditions of any data sharing agreement, and to the consent forms parents are asked to sign. In addition, the LDOE’s website is one of the most informative in the country and its Data Governance and Student Privacy Handbook is an excellent resource for any school.
While many parents and educators are pleased with stricter policies in this area, there are those that raise legitimate concerns. Strict student data privacy laws can limit research by government or private groups into student and school performance, safety issues, and much more. Either the researcher cannot access the data or regulations make it far too expensive or time consuming to acquire the data. Furthermore, technology in the classroom can improve student performance, but strict student data privacy laws may prevent schools and teachers from using certain technologies. It is certainly a delicate balance between providing the best education possible to its students while protecting their privacy.
Nevertheless, the momentum of stricter student data privacy rules continues to pick up. Since 2013, 39 of the 50 States and D.C. have passed student data privacy laws. In 2018, the European Union passed the GDPR and California passed a similarly broad consumer privacy protection law, CCPA. Adding fuel to the fire, Facebook and other open social media sites have been frequently finding themselves in the news regarding data breaches and unauthorized selling of data to third parties.
Louisiana is a great place to get a better understanding of what the environment may be like in your state in the near future. Having said, schools across the nation as well as education technology companies alike should expect to adopt stricter student data privacy rules are going to have to accommodate these laws.
Here are some more resources that dive deeper into the benchmarks Louisiana is setting:
About Bill Miles:
Bill began his career as an attorney-at-law. Driven by technology and innovation, he has worked with several start-ups to lead innovation. Now, as CEO of Vidigami, Bill is leading the Vidigami Private Social Platform and Picaboo Yearbooks Editor to provide schools with a one-stop-shop solution that enables them to securely centralize, intelligently organize, privately share, and utilize media in a way that is responsible and rewarding.