School Board Discusses Student Privacy

by Terry Rogers

On Monday, January 27, Milford School District Board of Education was presented the first read of a new student privacy policy. The new policy is based on the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which provides certain protections to both parents and students.

“As you can see in red in the second paragraph, we wanted to be sure that language was clear,” Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, said. “The policy is not really new, but the language has been updated and states that if federal, state or local agents request access to any student or student records, the Superintendent or designee shall be notified immediately and that they may intervene. This also pertains to judicial orders or subpoenas presented to a school. They also must be delivered to the Superintendent or designee immediately.”

In addition to Board Policy 5313, Dr. Dickerson explained that an add-on policy had been created that addressed immigration officials who may seek identifiable information on students within the district. All Immigration and Customs Officials must be directed to the Superintendent of Schools who will determine if any identifiable information can be released.

“The two policies have very similar language,” Dr. Dickerson said. “However, we felt that the first policy did not totally protect students who may be subjected to immigration and customs. It still refers to the FERPA policy, but adds another layer of protection for students who may have immigration issues. This includes an ICE official who arrives on school property without a court order, subpoena or other written authority. Of course, any official who arrives at a school with a court order will be referred to the Superintendent.

Board member Jason Miller asked if this policy was something that had not been included in policy before to which Dr. Dickerson explained that it really related to Immigration officials coming on school property and that it was decided to separate out the language so it could be easily found if the situation arises. Board member Rony Baltazar-Lopez asked if the new policy also covered school buses and bus stops.

“Yes, and we thank you for your assistance in creating this policy, Mr. Baltazar-Lopez, as well as Mr. [David] Vezmar,” Dr. Dickerson said. “At first, we had not included buses and bus stops but after having the attorney review this, it was determined we should include those areas. It now says school grounds and vehicles. We will also be reviewing this policy on staff’s first work day back each year. We want to be sure that every staff member is aware that a request for student information from federal, state or local agents must be referred immediately to the Superintendent.”

Dr. Dickerson also explained that the district was planning to add Spanish language versions of all board policies. He stated that policies that have been updated would be converted first and, as new policies are updated, they would also be converted into Spanish. Both English and Spanish versions would be available on the district website.

“I suggest that when you have meetings with parents during the school year, you make it known that this policy exists and that you will have Spanish versions soon,” Board member Jean Wylie said. “The best way to get this information out is when a Spanish-speaking family comes to the school for meetings, to tell them then that it is possible to get a Spanish version.”

Milford School Board will vote on the new policies at the February 24 meeting.

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