You are invited to participate in a Webinar event sponsored and presented by the U. S. Department of Education, and coordinated by The Millennium Group’s (TMG’s) Technical Assistance Team.

This Webinar will be the first in a series of presentations designed to strengthen your capacity to achieve your project outcomes.

Webinar Topic: Understanding FERPA (The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

Date:   Wednesday December 9, 2015

Time: 2:00 PM EST

Please register for the webinar using this link: Registration

TEDNA sponsored two resolutions that passed at NCAI’s Annual Convention in San Diego last month.  The first was a resolution calling on the Department of Education to utilize its authority under 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b)(1)(C) and 34 C.F.R. § 99.31(a)(3)(iii) to exempt tribes and TEAs from FERPA’s advance consent requirement by designating TEAs as the Secretary of Education’s authorized representatives.

The second was a resolution that supports the right of American Indian and Alaska Native high school students to practice and express their traditional religious and spiritual beliefs and honor their academic and other achievements by wearing an eagle feather at their commencement ceremonies.

You can see those and all of the other resolutions that passed NCAI’s Annual Convention here.

An excerpt:

The struggle to protect students’ privacy while making use of the data collected on them in school has for years been focused on the role of outside companies.

But while that debate has raged in Congress and statehouses across the country, K-12 school systems in more than a dozen cities and counties have quietly begun linking children’s educational records with data from other government agencies, covering everything from children’s mental-health status to their history of child-welfare placements and their involvement in the juvenile-justice system.

Proponents say that such intergovernmental “integrated data systems” can yield powerful insights that promote a more holistic understanding of children’s experiences. They point to an emerging track record of the information being used to improve policy, service delivery, and program evaluation.

Take, for example, Allegheny County, in southwestern Pennsylvania. After learning that 14,450 Pittsburgh public school students—more than half the district—had been involved in county human-services programs, officials there have worked to analyze the experiences of homeless students and children in foster care. They’ve initiated a new cross-sector effort to combat chronic absenteeism. Child-welfare caseworkers will soon receive weekly email alerts when children in their caseloads get suspended or miss multiple days of school. And district officials or school counselors and social workers could get similar notices when one of their students shows up in a homeless shelter, runs afoul of the law, or is moved from his or her child-welfare placement.

“It’s been transformational in understanding how a community, school districts, and other child-serving government agencies can come together to support kids,” said Erin Dalton, the deputy director of the county’s human-services department’s data-analysis, research, and evaluation office.

The administration of President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Education are both part of a growing national push for those kinds of data-sharing arrangements. But clearing the legal and technical hurdles to create such systems is difficult.

Turning the resulting data into better policies and fresh practices is even harder.

And the privacy concerns associated with integrated data systems—including potential breaches, the creation of inaccurate or misleading profiles, and possible stigmatization of children—are immense.

To read the entire article, click here.

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.