Student Data Privacy Legislation in the State of WV
West Virginia’s Student Data Accessibility, Transparency & Accountability Act, otherwise known as HB 4316, is a student data protection law that was initially enacted in 2014 and later amended in 2016. The law establishes the data protection and privacy standards that educators and school administrators within the state of West Virginia are required to adhere to when managing the personal information of students that attend K-12 schools within the state. Furthermore, the law also sets forth the specific categories of student data that are protected from unauthorized use, access, and disclosure, as well as the rights that the parents and guardians of students have as it relates to ensuring that the privacy of their children is being upheld at all times.
How is student data defined under the law?
West Virginia’s Student Data Accessibility, Transparency & Accountability Act defines student data to mean “data collected or reported at the individual student level included in a student’s educational record.” Alternatively, the law defines directory information as “individual student information that is subject to disclosure for school-related purposes only.” Moreover, the law defines aggregated data as “data collected that is reported at the group, cohort, or institutional level with a data set of sufficient size that no information for an individual parent or student is identifiable.” Additionally, the law defines a student data system to mean “the West Virginia Department of Education statewide longitudinal data system.”
What are the duties of school districts under the law?
Some of the data protection responsibilities that school districts have under West Virginia’s Student Data Accessibility, Transparency & Accountability Act include:
- School districts are responsible for creating and publishing a dictionary, data index, or data inventory that contains definitions for all data elements that will be collected from students. This information must also be made publicly available.
- When a school district wishes to add new categories of personal data to its dictionary, data index, or data inventory, the school district in question is responsible for formulating a statement detailing the purpose, reason, and legal authority for the proposed collection of such student data.
- School districts are responsible for developing, implementing, and publishing data security and privacy practices that are in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or FERPA, as well as other relevant privacy legislation at the state and federal levels. This information must also be made publicly available.
- School districts are required to limit access to their student longitudinal data systems to educators, authorized staff, and contractors that have been hired to fulfill their respective duties.
- School districts are required to provide training, education, and outreach to educators, school administrators, school personnel, students, and parents and guardians, in order to foster a culture of transparency and accountability as it regards safeguarding the personal information and privacy of students within West Virginia.
- School districts are responsible for facilitating the means needed to ensure that parents and guardians can inspect and review their children’s educational records.
What categories of personal data are protected by the law?
The data elements pertaining to students within the state of West Virginia that are legally protected from unauthorized use, access, and disclosure under HB 4316 include but are not limited to:
- First and last names.
- Email addresses.
- Physical addresses.
- Dates and places of birth.
- Telephone numbers.
- Dates of attendance.
- Handwriting samples.
- Social security numbers.
- Religious affiliation.
- Drivers license numbers.
- Biometric information.
- Student assigned identifiers.
- Juvenile delinquency records.
Complying with West Virginia’s HB 4316
As it concerns complying with West Virginia’s HB 4316, one way that school districts within the state can avoid violating the provisions of the law is through the utilization of automatic redaction software. These software programs give users the ability to safeguard various categories of personal information, ranging from names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, and credit card numbers, among a variety of others. With this being said, school districts within West Virginia can use an automatic redaction software program to secure the personal information of their students, ensuring that it remains safe from harm.
As 2021 was a record year for data breaches in the U.S., the issue of data privacy is at the forefront more than ever in history. To this end, legislation such as West Virginia’s Student Data Accessibility, Transparency & Accountability Act works to provide parents and guardians within the state with the means necessary to protect their children from the adverse effects of the unauthorized use and access of personal information. Through the provisions of the law, both students and parents have a number of rights that will allow them to safeguard student data in a manner that is both effective and efficient.