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Is Your School’s Use of Technology in the Classroom Violating FERPA?
Incorporating the use of apps or other technology in the classroom may trigger a number of legal issues and requirements under various state and federal laws, such as Wisconsin’s Pupil Records Law and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA).
- Wisconsin’s Pupil Records Law and FERPA both prohibit the disclosure of personally identifiable information from student records without the consent of a parent or adult student, with certain limited exceptions.
- The PPRA is a federal law that applies in a certain situations, including when a student’s personal information (e.g., name or address) is collected or used for marketing purposes. With certain limited exceptions, the PPRA requires notice and an opportunity to opt students out of activities involving the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information that has been collected from students for the purposes of marketing or selling that information (or otherwise providing that information to others for that purpose).
- COPPA is a federal law which imposes parental notice and consent requirements regarding what information may be collected, used, or disclosed by commercial “operators” of websites, apps, and other online services that are directed to children (defined as individuals under the age of 13) or any “operator” that has actual knowledge that it is collecting or maintaining personal information from a child under the age of 13.
The FPCO found that requiring parents to agree to such terms and conditions was tantamount to requiring parents to waive their rights under FERPA. The FPCO further found that by requiring parents to waive their rights under FERPA as a condition of enrollment and receipt of services, the school violated FERPA.
To help prevent violations of FERPA, COPPA, and the PPRA, we recommend that:
- Board Policies or Administrative Guidelines be adopted which prohibit staff members from installing apps on student devices or using a web-based student information system without the advance approval of the district. The Policies or Guidelines should also include procedures for requesting and granting district approval.
- The type of information collected by the service provider and whether it includes any personally identifiable information;
- How the service provider uses, or is permitted to use, the information it collects;
- To whom the service provider may disclose personal information and under what circumstances it will potentially disclose personal information;
- Whether the service provider will give the District or the person whose information is being disclosed any advanced notice prior to disclosure; and
- The District’s obligations regarding parental consent.
- Notice and an opportunity to opt out be provided to parents, as required by law.
If you have any questions about this Legal Update or your school’s compliance with the above laws, please contact Alana Leffler at 262-364-0267 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or your Buelow Vetter attorney.