This is directly for the USBE Special Education. Since this specifically address the use of email responses with student information, please take the time to review and implement the information below. Remember as a team we specifically utilize first initial and last name or just first initial. If parents are using first names and the email references the last name you must redact the name by replacing it with just an initial or using “student.”
EMAIL AND STUDENT PRIVACY
Introduction to FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that prohibits the improper disclosure of personally identifiable information derived from education records. FERPA requires schools to provide certain privacy protections for education records that they maintain. Additionally, FERPA affords parents and adult students certain rights with respect to student education records, including:
! The right to inspect and review student education records;
! The right to request an amendment of student education records;
! The right to provide written consent before the LEA discloses personally identifiable information (PII) from the student’s education records, except for certain exceptions specified in FERPA; and,
! The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning an LEA’s alleged failure to comply with FERPA.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Personally identifiable information (PII) contained in educational records relating to IDEA-eligible students is subject to FERPA requirements and includes:
! A student’s name;
! The name(s) of a student’s parents or other family members;
! A student’s address;
! Personal identifiers (e.g., social security number, student number);
! Other indirect identifiers (date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name, race, ethnicity); and,
! Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community to identify the student with a reasonable certainty.
The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) has held that student ID numbers and social security numbers constitute personally identifiable information since they are “easily traceable” to the student. Letter to Shea, 36 IDELR 7 (FPCO 2001).
Email Transmission of PII
Due to the rapidly evolving use of digital communication and record keeping, traditional FERPA rules and regulations offer little guidance in regards to electronic communications. Some hearing officers or courts have taken the position that emails that are not maintained as part of the student’s records are not FERPA records. However, given the fact that emails are frequently used as evidence in due process hearings and State complaint investigations, school staff should exercise caution in documenting student concerns in email communications.
Regardless of whether email communications qualify as “education records” under FERPA, unencrypted email is not a secure method for transmitting confidential information or sensitive data over the internet. Anytime FERPA protected information is emailed, there is a risk that it could be accessed by unintended recipients. As such, USBE policy prohibits LEAs from transmitting PII over email.
Responding to Messages Containing PII
Many parents may share their concerns about their student’s special education services via email to school staff. In these instances, school staff must redact any PII from the email prior to responding to the parent or forwarding the email. For example, in instances where a student’s name is used, school staff should delete the student’s name from the message and replace it with a generic term (e.g., “student” or [Student]) or use some other indicator such as a highlight or symbol to indicate where the redaction occurred. In the subsequent message, school staff should include a short statement to the email recipient indicating that PII within the email has been redacted in compliance with FERPA and USBE policies to avoid the unsecure transmission of student sensitive information. The USBE follows this same procedure whenever school staff or parents send an email containing PII to USBE staff.
Best Practices for Avoiding Inadvertent Disclosure
Before sending any email communication about a student with a parent, administrator, or colleague, school staff should carefully consider whether that information could be shared in another way. Staff members should avoid the use of email for documenting substantive matters and concerns. If an email is intended to document a substantive matter or concern, it should be printed and included in the student’s file.
If communication about a student must be sent over email, school staff should:
! Not include more information in an email than necessary;
! Double check the recipient’s email address, especially for bulk emails and Cc’d messages; and
! Ensure an attached file is the file they intended to send.
In the rare circumstance when school staff determine that PII must be transmitted over email, the information should be in a protected file attachment, not in the body of the email, followed by a separate email containing a strong password to access the file.
Attached are four documents with important information.
This week, we are looking at Title IX, since I am also the Title IX coordinator for our school.
Department of Education Issues New Interim Guidance on Campus Sexual Misconduct
New Q&A will serve as interim guide until the conclusion of notice and comment rulemaking
Widely criticized 2011, 2014 guidance also withdrawn
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Contact: Press Office, (202) 401-1576, email@example.com
Washington — Building on her remarks from September 7, 2017, regarding the Department's commitment to protecting all students from discrimination, today U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the release of a new interim Q&A for schools on how to investigate and adjudicate allegations of campus sexual misconduct under federal law.
"This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly," said DeVos. "Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes."
In the coming months, the Department intends to engage in rulemaking on Title IX responsibilities arising from complaints of sexual misconduct. The Department will solicit comments from stakeholders and the public during the rulemaking process, a legal procedure the prior administration ignored.
In the interim, the newly-released Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct explains the Department's current expectations of schools, and the Department will continue to rely on its Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance, which was informed by a public comment process and issued in 2001, as well as the Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Harassment issued on January 25, 2006.
"In the coming months, hearing from survivors, campus administrators, parents, students and experts on sexual misconduct will be vital as we work to create a thoughtful rule that will benefit students for years to come. We also will continue to work with schools and community leaders to better address preventing sexual misconduct through education and early intervention," DeVos added.
The Department of Education is also withdrawing the Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence dated April 4, 2011, and the Questions and Answers on Title IX Sexual Violence dated April 29, 2014. The withdrawn documents ignored notice and comment requirements, created a system that lacked basic elements of due process and failed to ensure fundamental fairness.
DeVos concluded, "As I said earlier this month, the era of rule by letter is over. The Department of Education will follow the proper legal procedures to craft a new Title IX regulation that better serves students and schools."
Press Call Information:
The Department will hold a background press call at 10:45 a.m. open to credentialed members of the media. Media interested in participating should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive additional information.
FAQs on Updated Campus Sexual Misconduct GuidanceWhat is the purpose of the Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct?
The rescission letter and Q&A do not add requirements to applicable law.
Does the rescission letter or the Q&A limit the right of a person to file a Title IX complaint?
No. A school must adopt and publish grievance procedures that provide for a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct. Moreover, whether or not a student files a complaint of alleged sexual misconduct or otherwise asks the school to take action, where the school knows or reasonably should know of an incident of sexual misconduct, the school must take steps to understand what occurred and to respond appropriately. In particular, when sexual misconduct is so severe, persistent or pervasive as to deny or limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the recipient's school's programs or activities, a hostile environment exists and the school must respond.
How can I get help from OCR?
OCR offers technical assistance to help schools achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws it enforces and works with schools to develop approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination. A school should contact the OCR enforcement office serving its jurisdiction for technical assistance.
AEF School Profile Page for your review