Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kansas House OKs student data privacy bill

March 27, 2014

— Restrictions on access to data on Kansas public school students would increase under a bill clearing the House on Wednesday, a move described by legislators as a means toward increased privacy.

The measure, which was approved on a 119-4 vote, also specifies who may view such information, including parents and certain government agencies. The bill goes back to the Senate, which approved the bill earlier this session in a slightly different form.

Proponents said the bill would help protect students’ identities and limit the disclosure of information collected about them to specific agencies, including local school districts, the Kansas education department and public health agencies.

“With this bill we are creating a higher standard that is in place with the federal guidelines. It is a good move in the right direction,” said Rep. Amanda Grosserode, a Lenexa Republican who carried the bill during Wednesday’s debate.

Legislators have raised concerns that data would be used inappropriately and shared with the federal government or other entities without parental consent. The issue has been raised as more testing and reporting is required of school districts, including implementation of the Common Core standards for math and reading. Kansas adopted the standards in 2010 and is working on new exams to measure student progress.

The bill requires a report on the data collection law’s implementation to be submitted to the governor and legislators in 2015.

The House had few questions about the particulars of the bill, though debate was marked by efforts from Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, a Grandview Plaza Republican, who wanted to require additional reporting by school districts to determine how many students are in the United States illegally.

Rothlisberg would have required districts to get the number, calculate how much it costs to educate those students and report that figure to the public. He also wanted to give the information to federal agencies to begin addressing immigration.

“We need to get a handle on this. That money is not being spent on our children and grandchildren,” he said.

Rep. Luis Ruiz, a Kansas City Democrat, said Rothlisberg’s attempt would punish children who were in the United States through no fault of their own.

“Gathering data is one thing. Being vindictive and hateful is another,” Ruiz said.

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