PPRA Gives Parents Some Level of Control Over Their Child’s Education

PPRA Gives Parents Some Level of Control Over Their Child's Education

PPRA gives parents some level of control over their child’s privacy when it comes to the sharing of highly sensitive information in surveys, analyses and evaluations. It’s an important law that schools must know about and comply with.

It was passed in 1978 and aims to limit how much information can be shared with students before they give consent. It also requires that LEAs provide notice and allow parents to inspect instructional materials related to survey research.

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What Does PPRA Cover?

PPRA is a federal law that gives parents some level of control over their child’s education. PPRA provides a number of important rights, including the right to choose whether their child participates in surveys; the right to inspect instructional materials used as part of research; and the right to be informed about the collection, disclosure, and use of personal information for marketing purposes.

Generally speaking, a school’s use of PPRA requires notice to students, allowing them to decide whether or not they want to participate in the survey. This notice must be made at least annually, at the beginning of each school year, and within a reasonable period of time after a substantial change in school policies that affect student participation.

This notice must also specify what types of surveys are allowed under PPRA. These include surveys that cover a number of sensitive topics, including income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for program participation), religion, and citizenship.

Many schools conduct surveys in order to evaluate programs and programs’ effectiveness, often under the philosophy of continuous improvement and honest, objective data analysis. However, these surveys must be conducted in a way that safeguards the privacy of students and their families.

One example of a survey that may fall under PPRA is a pre-test survey on the SAT or ACT. This type of survey, which typically asks about a student’s religion, citizenship, or income, must be administered only after obtaining parental consent.

In addition, a school cannot administer a non-emergency, invasive physical exam to a student without parental consent. This does not include hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, which are permitted under state law, nor exams to protect the immediate health and safety of a student.

There are a few exceptions to these restrictions, but they can be tricky to navigate. For instance, if you have reason to suspect that a student is suicidal, it is okay to talk with them about their thoughts and feelings but not the cause of the ideation.

The most effective approach to this questioning is to seek parental consent before asking the student, as well as any other questions that could be considered suicide risk. This can be done in a variety of ways, including an email to the parent or a phone call.

What Can Schools Do With PPRA?

The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, or PPRA, gives parents some level of control over their child’s personal information collected through surveys and other activities administered by schools. This law was passed in the 1970s and is intended to protect students from being subjected to information that could be used for marketing purposes, or sold to third parties.

The law is meant to prevent school districts from collecting and using student data without consent, and it also provides an opportunity for students to get more informed about how their personal information will be used. PPRA is especially important for digital products that collect or store student information, because it can limit how much sensitive data is collected.

PPRA was originally aimed at higher education institutions and scholarship organizations, but it has since been interpreted to include all K-12 institutions. This means that all schools should be aware of PPRA and how it might affect their survey practices.

One way that schools can implement PPRA is to develop policies about how they will notify parents when surveys are being conducted, how they will allow parents to inspect and review materials related to the surveys, and how they will get parental consent for their child’s participation in these activities. These policies may already exist, but it is worth checking to see if they need to be updated.

Another important aspect of PPRA is that it requires school districts to give students notice and an opportunity to opt out when non-emergency physical exams or screenings are being administered. This can include hearing, vision, scoliosis, and other health screenings that are permitted under state law.

PPRA also allows for parents to object to the collection of personally identifiable information (PII) about their children. This includes their names, home addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers.

If a school does not want to use PII for marketing purposes, it can ask permission to use the data for educational purposes, such as creating an educational product or developing an assessment for their students. This permission should be obtained through written notice and an opportunity for the parents to choose not to participate in this activity.

What Can Parents Do With PPRA?

Parents have the ultimate authority over their child’s education and should be empowered to hold school systems accountable. But often schools ignore this power and simply treat parents as passive bystanders.

One important law that gives parents some level of control over their child’s educational experience is the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). This federal law originally passed in 1974 and was expanded multiple times. It aims to give parents access to information regarding surveys and other activities in which their children participate.

PPRA requires that parents be given notice before a survey is administered, and have the opportunity to consent to the survey. It also requires that schools or contractors make instructional materials that will be used in connection with an ED-funded survey, analysis or evaluation available for parents to inspect if they request it.

In addition, PPRA gives parents the right to refuse to have their child participate in a non-emergency invasive physical examination or screening by the school. Exceptions to this policy include hearing, vision or scoliosis screenings and exams required by state law.

If a school or a third-party contractor conducts a survey that asks for information in any of the above categories, parental consent must be provided in writing. This includes pre-tests on the SAT and ACT, or any other survey that directly asks students for PPRA-protected topics.

This is particularly true of race-focused student and teacher surveys and data management tools. It also applies to trainings on systemic racism and oppression, white supremacy, implicit bias, gender issues, and intersectionality.

Unless the school has a policy about surveys and other activities, parents should contact the district’s Family Policy Compliance Officer (FPCO) or the Family Rights Council of their state to find out what consent requirements exist. If the FPCO or FRC determines that your school has breached PPRA, it may file a complaint on your behalf.

PPRA is an excellent tool for parents to hold schools accountable. But it’s not without its challenges. It can be difficult to get staff on board with a policy that restricts them from asking questions about sex lives, drug usage and other things of that nature. But if schools and teachers are willing to fight for these rights, PPRA can be a powerful tool.

What Can Schools Do Without PPRA?

PPRA gives parents some level of control over their child’s education and makes sure that schools are transparent with what information they are collecting. It’s one of the few laws in place that actually enables parents to hold schools accountable.

Basically, it means that schools can’t collect highly sensitive information about students without consent, unless it’s required by state law. Moreover, schools have to give parents the opportunity to review these surveys and instructional materials before allowing their children to participate in them.

It’s important to note that this is not an alternative to FERPA, which is the primary law in place that protects student privacy. PPRA only applies to local education agencies and does not apply to post-secondary institutions.

To comply with PPRA, schools need to work with parents to develop policies for providing notice of these surveys and allowing them to inspect the materials related to the survey. This policy must also allow parents to opt out if they choose, and it must be included in any contract that is used to provide these services.

Another option is to avoid requiring students to respond to surveys that ask about any of the eight protected categories of information. This will be difficult and time-consuming, and you are unlikely to get a critical mass of students to participate.

Generally, it is best to conduct only district-developed or district-provided surveys and double check that they don’t contain questions about any of the eight protected categories of information. It’s even better to conduct those surveys if you can get the approval of the district appointee who is in charge of conducting them and to obtain parental permission before handing out the surveys to students.

Finally, it is not a violation of PPRA to ask a student about their suicidal thoughts if it’s part of a health or safety emergency that has come to your attention. However, you must also have a legitimate reason for asking the question and make sure that you only ask about this in a way that will lead to the student receiving the help they need.

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