Students in the great state of Connecticut are fortunate to have warrior parents protecting their private information.
Read how Jennifer Jacobson, a member of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and a handful of other parents joined together to create CAPE, the Connecticut Alliance for Privacy in Education. Read how how their group was able to work with stakeholders and legislators to enact the state’s first student privacy law. This is a great example of how parent power can affect meaningful change.
Congratulations to Jennifer, CAPE, and the students of Connecticut!
HB 5469 An Act Concerning Student Data: Origin, Outcome and Gratitude
What began as a labor of love through the collaboration of four moms; Maria Naughton, Anne Manusky, Kimberly Norton Butler and myself, became a venture into our own education in how student information, used as a tool to help our educators can also pose risks to students. We met with many other concerned parents and several state representatives after learning how a majority of other states have already enacted such legislation. We began advocating for a state law that would serve to protect the children of our state and provide greater awareness to their families.
After an unsuccessful first attempt in 2015, an alliance of organizations was created, across ideological perspectives who came together to have this important conversation- known as CAPE. Together we were able to focus our priority areas within a complex issue that were pertinent to our stakeholders and advocate for their addition into a first state law for Connecticut.
What this bill does: HB 5469 An Act Concerning Student Data Privacy regulates contracts with third party vendors and operators of websites and apps who utilize student information, student records and student generated content via a written agreement with a local or regional school board.
- Clarifies what must be included in contract provision with vendors who receive student information, student records or student generated content.
- Restricts the use of student information, student records and student generated content to purposes defined within the contract.
- Requires a means by which a parent can review student information held by a vendor and correct any erroneous information
- Specifies that student information, student records and student generated content cannot be retained by a contractor after the contracted services expire, unless requested by the parent.
- Clarifies that contractors and vendors do not “own” the data and that all student generated content remains property of the parent or student.
- Defines technical security standards for the maintenance, transmission, access and destruction of sensitive student data.
- Requires parental notification of a locally executed contract to which their children are a party to, details of the contact, and requires that contracts be posted.
- Bans targeted advertising based on a students use of websites and apps used at school for school purposes.
- Bans the sale, rent or trading of student information unless the sale is part of a merger.
- Details the conditions and instances when an operator may disclose, use and share student information.
- Specifies the timelines and process for breach notification to local and regional school boards and parents.
- Creates a Task Force to examine other important issues relating to student data including: parent deletion of student information when appropriate, notice of website and apps used in school to parents, reasonable penalties for violators of the law, training on secure data handling, developing a list of approved websites and apps for use in school, a grievance process for parents and students, developing a tool kit for schools, and raising awareness on the issue of student data. The task force shall report to the general assembly with any findings and recommendations by January 1, 2017.
This bill does not stop the collection of student data or its appropriate use for instructional purposes or to improve student outcomes. It simply provides greater notice and transparency for parents and delineates contract provisions and technical security safeguards, while seeking to address misuse in an under regulated and under enforced industry.
HB5469 is a bill that serves to provide greater protection for our students, information for our parents, guidance for our schools and grants a vehicle to bring all stakeholders to the table to continue this important conversation. A bill which was borne by parents and their representatives who heard their concerns and acted to address the issue.
HB 5469 truly represents the best of us in Hartford. When constituents, lawmakers, organizations and advocates work together, listen to one another and work across the aisle we can create good policy that benefits kids, families and leaves open the door for further conversation
This is an important first step for Connecticut’s students and families and we are incredibly grateful that the legislature has heard our call this year. The bill passed unanimously in the House on May 3rd and on consent in the Senate on May 4th.
We wish to extend our sincere gratitude to those representatives who championed this work: Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Gail Lavielle, and Toni Boucher. To the Co-Chairs of the Education Committee- Andrew Fleischmann and Gayle Slossberg, all of the co-sponsors of the bill and every member of the House and Senate for their support and vote.
I wish to also thank CAPE member representatives from the Connecticut Parental Rights Coalition-Pam Lucashu and Anne Manusky, Connecticut PTA-Marne Usher and Kathleen Kennedy, American Civil Liberties Union CT-David McGuire, Connecticut Association of Private Special Education Facilities-Ana Wittig, Connecticut Council of Administrators of Special Education-David Scata, Connecticut Association of School Administrators-Ann Jellison and Kevin Graff, Connecticut Education Association-Ray Rossomando and Susan Williams, Connecticut Federation of School Administrators-Gary Maynard and Paul Stinger, American Federation of Teachers- Jen Berigen and Jen Hochadel and Oak Hill School-Stan Stoby for their insight, support and tireless dedication to our states students and parents. It is truly an honor.
To the Grassroots contingency, starting with the original foursome and stretching across the state- what can I say ? Your fierce and fearless voices, always ready to stand guard- for which I can only bow down in awe of your continued action and advocacy.
To the parents and children of this state- this one’s for you!
On to the Governor with vigilance through to the finish line, who you may contact at 860-566-4840 to urge his signing. Nationally and within state there is more work to be done, but we have a start.
Jennifer Jacobsen, M.Ed
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world”