The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Student Attorneys (COSA) Director Sonja Trainor for presented a preview of a comprehensive policy guide for school boards during a session entitled, “Cloud Computing and Student Privacy,” on Sunday, April 6 at the NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans.
The policy guide, which focuses on the tug-of-war between individual privacy rights and the benefits of data management, analysis, and storage on cloud-based platforms in school districts, presents the relevant terminology, recent academic research, breadth of software offerings, important legal requirements, and fundamental resources for school board members and school lawyers.
By acknowledging cloud commuting’s undeniable future in school districts, the report emphasizes that with the ease and accessibility of the cloud comes with the potential for the loss of privacy—and the increase in liability—with any transfer of personal student information.
Due to the numerous laws that potentially govern student data privacy, the school law requirements section of this guide is a key asset for districts and legal teams. Current laws still leave plenty of room for interpretation on student privacy, making it is essential for district leaders to ask the right questions and understand potential problems. The most directly applicable student privacy laws for school districts and service providers are the following:
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and its sister statute, the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), which apply to educational institutions that receive federal financial assistance; and
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which applies to operators of websites and mobile apps that are directed to or known to be used by children under the age of 13.
Formed in 1967, the NSBA’s Council of School Attorneys provides information and practical assistance to attorneys who represent public school districts. It offers legal education, specialized publications, and a forum for exchange of information, and it supports the legal advocacy efforts of the National School Boards Association.