New FERPA Bill in House – the Student Privacy Protection Act

The Student Privacy Protection Act can be seen here, and the Senate’s version that dropped earlier this year is here.  Regrettably, there is no amendment for Tribes or Tribal Education Departments.  The amendment passed a few years ago that permits disclosure of student records to a tribal organization that has the right to access a student’s case plan when the tribe is the guardian of the student is still in the bill, however.

Amending FERPA to allow TEAs and TEDs to have access to our student’s records has been a top priority for some time. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) should be amended to authorize Indian tribes, consistent with local education agencies (“LEA”) and state education agencies (“SEA”), to receive the academic records of tribal member students from schools and LEAs without advance parental consent. Indian tribes can use this data to create data-driven education programs to improve AI/AN student achievement.

As Quinton Roman Nose noted to the House Education & Workforce Committee earlier this year,  “[t]he difficulty of accessing — or the inability to access — these records on tribal students has hampered the efforts of TEAs to plan and coordinate education programs; to provide support services and technical assistance to schools; and to work with LEAs and SEAs. FERPA should be clarified by a technical amendment that includes TEAs.”

NCAI’s resolution on this issue is here.  NIEA’s resolution on this is here.

From NCAI’s resolution:

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby support legal, political, and fiscal equity for tribal governments in this critical area of access to student records and information kept by the state public schools, and to achieve that equity, NCAI asks the Executive (Administration) and the Legislative (Congress) branches of the United States government to (1) clarify the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act such that it acknowledges that tribal governments are among the governments for whom advance parental or student consent is not required to access these records and information and (2) request and / or appropriate sufficient federal funding to ensure that tribal governments can invest as much at least proportionately as states and their public school districts are investing in the needed technology to track and report on tribal students.

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