A month-by-month guide to protecting your child’s privacy at school

By: Melissa Campbell

With back-to-school approaching, it’s the perfect time to download the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, a free resource from CCFC and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy!

Schools maintain digital dossiers with ever-growing amounts of personal information about students—things like test scores, income levels, social security numbers, and even immigration status. But most schools don’t have strong policies to keep that information safe or prevent it from being shared with third parties. Our free Toolkit is designed to help parents understand what data schools collect, how it should be protected, and what parents can do to hold schools accountable. 

Download the Toolkit today, and use it this semester to take real steps to protect your child’s sensitive information.

In August, submit any time-sensitive forms to your child’s school.Use the sample forms in Appendices B and C to opt your child out of having their “directory information” shared with third parties, including businesses and military recruiters. It’s also a great time to review your child’s educational record to make sure it’s accurate–the template in Appendix A makes the process simple and straightforward.
In September, read the whole Toolkit. Use Section I to learn what data gets collected about students, and Section II to understand your rights under current laws. You can also watch our webinar with PCSP and Parents Across America to learn more about how to use the kit.
In October, meet with your child’s teachers and principal. Use the questions in Section V and Appendix D to find out more about your school’s data policies and practices. Be aware that many teachers and administrators won’t have answers to all of your questions. Before you enter the meeting, think about what you’ll do if you can’t get the information you’re seeking.
In November, talk to other parents. Using the tips and questions in sections VI and VII, discuss what you’d like to see in your district. That might be a list of approved classroom apps, stronger district-wide data protection policies, or even a promise to stop using or a particularly concerning app or platform. Decide what’s important to you as parents, and choose a small group to have a follow-up meeting with district officials.
In December, ask district officials to meet with your parent group. Share the concerns and questions that emerged from the conversations you had in October and November. Use Section VI again to create a plan for after the meeting: if the district agrees to what you ask, how will you follow up to make sure the changes are implemented? If they brush you off, how will you respond? Our Toolkit includes resources for putting more pressure on districts to do the right thing by children.

We’d love to hear about how you’re using the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy in your community. Send us an email any time with feedback, concerns, or questions. We’re here to help!