The U.S. Department of Education recently found that the Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania did violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Rules established during the Obama administration weakened FERPA, and there has been concern about how outdated it has become considering the rise of educational tech. So it’s remarkable anyone would be found in violation.
Unfortunately, the original complaint was filed on December 16, 2012, and it took the Department of Education almost five years to respond.
The Department ruled that requiring students to use third-party services that share student data with unauthorized parties as a condition of enrollment is a violation of FERPA. In its letter, federal education officials wrote that “a parent or eligible student cannot be required to waive the rights and protections accorded under FERPA as a condition of acceptance into an educational institution or receipt of educational training or services.“
Perhaps this is a sign that the Education Department under the Trump Administration will be responsive to parents’ student data privacy concerns. This ruling is a good first step. Let’s hope they significantly reduce the response time.