Members of the House Education Committee on Thursday unanimously passed a student data protection bill — likely one of the last major pieces of legislation the panel will consider this year.
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R- Coeur d’Alene, has been working on the bill since last summer and rewritten it about eight times. Senate Bill 1372 is based on an Oklahoma bill recommended to him.
The seven-page bill requires data security plans be adopted and establishes a $50,000 penalty for the inappropriate release of student data.
Goedde’s legislation also includes an emergency clause, which would make it effective as soon as it is signed into law – as opposed to July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
“Developing a security policy and protecting student private information is extremely important, and the sooner the better,” Goedde said.
The bill was developed as parents voiced privacy concerns with the state’s transitions to the new Idaho Core Standards and aligned assessments.
Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said he was skeptical about the bill because he was upset educational data is even collected in the first place.
“I fail to see why it is so necessary to have so much private information about families on the record,” Nielsen said.
House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, and Goedde explained to Nielsen that this bill isn’t about collecting data; it’s about safeguarding the educational information that is already compiled.
Rep. Judy Boyle, R- Midvale, also attempted to persuade Nielsen.
“It’s the only data protection bill we are going to see this year, and it is vital we do protect student data,” she said.
Goedde’s bill also outlines data that is not collected, which includes:
- Medical and health records.
- Student biometric information.
- Gun ownership records.
- Religious information.
The bill has already cleared the Senate 35-0 and next moves to the House floor, it’s last hurdle before being sent to Gov. Butch Otter for final consideration.
Also Thursday, the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee OK’d $43,000, to allow the State Board of Education to hire a part-time data coordinator.
DeMordaunt said he has not scheduled any additional regular House Education Committee meetings during what may prove to be the final days of the legislative session. However, the group will need to convene at least once more, to approve committee minutes and possibly address a WiFi bill.