Should the privacy of all of our elementary and high school students be protected?

Every student in Maine who attends a public school is secure in knowing that their records are private. No school, administrator, teacher or aide may release any portion of a student’s records to anyone without meeting a very narrow set of guidelines.

These rules are spelled out in the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and apply to any school that receives federal funding.

A private school that does not receive federal funding is not required to, by law, provide the same protection to its students. Even if the school has a policy stating protection for the students, the only one that can hold the school accountable, at this time, is the school itself.

From firsthand knowledge, I can report that private schools are reluctant to report such a violation, and less beholden to punish or report themselves. This places the student at risk of public scrutiny or humiliation with no recourse.

That is why I have delivered to the State House, to each of my representatives, my senator and each member of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee a letter with a proposed bill that would seek to provide legal protection to all of our children and ensure consequences to anyone who would release a student’s records outside of the prescribed process.

Private schools may not receive federal funding, but they certainly benefit from the plowed roads and police and fire departments paid for with tax dollars. Is it to much to expect them to try to meet the same standards as a public school?

Tim White

Wells