A New Student Privacy Policy Office to Be Created for U.S. Department of Education

Politico reported yesterday that one of the upcoming changes at the U.S. Department of Education will be the rcreation of a new Student Privacy Policy Office.

Caitlin Emma writes:

— Other changes that haven’t been reported include the creation of a new Student Privacy Policy Office, which would be housed under the department’s Office of Planning Evaluation and Policy Development. The new approach would essentially break up the current Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, which has been housed under the Office of Management. The Education Department’s former chief privacy officer, Kathleen Styles, was reassigned earlier this year. 

— The new Student Privacy Policy Office would be created by combining and moving two offices out of the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer — the Student Privacy Policy and Assistance Division and the Family Policy Compliance Division. A new rulemaking effort would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law that protects the privacy of student education records, so the Family Policy Compliance Office can administer the law.

— The Student Privacy Policy Office would be charged with providing student privacy assistance to states and school districts, in addition to investigating FERPA complaints. The position of chief privacy officer will move over to the Office of the Chief Information Officer, which has historically dealt with information technology issues. The chief privacy officer would have jurisdiction over issues related to the Privacy Act, which regulates federal record-keeping, and other privacy safeguards.

FERPA desperately needs to be updated, but unless schools, states, and the Feds stop collecting student data, privacy will always be an issue.