Luna calls for protecting student data


Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna called on Gov. Butch Otter and legislators to safeguard data the state collects from public schools.

Tom Luna

Tom Luna

In a letter sent Thursday to Otter, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, Luna called for an executive order or a bill to ensure no personally identifiable data on students’ or their families’ religious or political affiliations, voting history or biometric information shall be collected, tracked or reported to the federal government.

The only exception Luna outlined was data legally required for the Migrant Student Database. Other than migrant data, Luna said all data sent to the federal government regarding students are only available in the aggregate, or small group level.

“Any data we collect from children has to have an education purpose,” Luna said. “I’m convinced the data we have now is secure. I’m asking that we have policies in place, technology in place, firewalls in place and laws and rules in place to make sure it remains secure.”

Luna said he wrote the letter when he did because of concerns over the federal government and National Security Agency monitoring citizens’ telephone and email data, as well as questions Idahoans have raised about the new Idaho Core Standards and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

On Thursday, Luna told Idaho Education News that no new data will be collected as part of the state’s transition to Idaho Core Standards and the SBAC. Regardless, he said he supported a re-worked resolution passed during June’s Republican State Central Committee meeting regarding data collection.

“The data we collect today is the same data we collected before the standards,” Luna said. “If we walked away from the standards tomorrow, we would still collect the same amount of data.”