Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 1036, which will allow parents and adult pupils to prevent the governing board of a local education agency from including the directory and personal information of a student and/or the student's family in the governing board's meeting minutes. SB 1036 is set to take effect on January 1, 2019.
Federal and State law define the extent to which local educational agencies (LEAs), including schools districts, charter schools, community college districts, and county offices of education, can collect and distribute information about students and their families. Under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and California law, LEAs are generally prohibited from releasing a student's "educational" or "pupil" records without written consent.
However, both Federal and State law exclude "directory information" from the definition of "educational" and "pupil records." Directory information includes a student's name, address, telephone number, date of birth, email address, major field of study, and dates of attendance.
SB 1036 was proposed to protect directory and personal information of students and their parents or guardians at school board meetings by not allowing their information to be published in the minutes of the meeting upon request. According to the author of the bill, some students and parents feel that the release of their information presents the potential for intimidation, harm, or other harassment based on their testimony during meetings. For this reason, SB 1036 authorizes students and their families to prevent their directory and "personal information" (defined to include a person's address, telephone number, date of birth, and email address), from being disclosed in the minutes of an LEA board meeting if a student who is age 18 or older, or the parent or guardian of a student, so requests in writing to the secretary or clerk of the LEA governing body.
While SB 1036 provides students and their families with some basic protections against public disclosure of personal information, it is by no means a guarantee that such information will be protected. As stated by the Assembly Committee on Education, given the public nature of LEA meetings, excluding names from meeting minutes is not a guarantee of anonymity, as the names of speakers can be obtained from other meeting participants and attendees, other written reports, and video or audio tape recordings. Further, the new law explicitly states that the provision is not intended to affect the public's right of access to information pursuant to any other law (e.g., the California Public Records Act or the Brown Act). Entities and individuals should, therefore, be aware of the limits of SB 1036.
Further, LEAs should make sure their staff are aware of SB 1036, and should consider adopting practices and procedures allowing them to properly respond to written requests from parents or adult students. LEAs should also ensure that their board policies pertaining to the release of directory information are updated to be consistent with the new requirements of SB 1036. Finally, school districts may consider alerting parents and the public of SB 1036 through their annual parental notification.
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