L.D. 1251, “An Act To Safeguard Students’ Personal and Private Information,” establishes data privacy practices for the state Department of Education and school districts.

It prohibits the department and school districts from disclosing personally identifiable information about students without the written consent of the parents of children under 18 years of age (and the written consent of the students themselves when they’re are at least 18).

The bill also prohibits the collection, entry and maintenance of certain information about students and their families.

For violating the restrictions, anyone who has entered into a contract or other agreement with the department or a school district is subject to a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation and disqualified from future access to education records.

On April 27, the Education Committee recommended that L.D. 1251 ought not to pass.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law passed in 1974 that bars the disclosure of personally identifiable data in student records to third parties without parental consent.

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, enacted in 1978, applies to federally funded student surveys, instructional materials or evaluations that deal with highly sensitive issues.

Congress enacted the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in 1998, which is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, not the U.S. Department of Education. The primary goal of this law is to allow parents to have control over what information is collected online from their children under age 13.

Call your state legislators and ask them to support L.D. 1251.

Gordon Draper

Bowdoin