Bill in Congress Seeks Privacy for Home-Schoolers' Data
by Natalie Y. Moore, September 5, 2002, Pioneer
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Freshman U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., said he would
introduce a bill this week that would tighten the privacy of
Closing the loophole would protect home-school records
nationwide, including in Minnesota, which classifies the
information as public. Kennedy is seeking to change the
language in the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy
"We should have the same type of protection for all students.
… I don't think this exclusion was meant to be," Kennedy said
at a Wednesday news conference in St. Paul surrounded by
In 2000 the Minnesota Department of Administration ruled that
data collected on home-schoolers by public schools is public
because the records are not expressly exempted in state law.
The home-school community recently learned of the loophole and
is trying to fight it while securing the same privacy afforded
to public school students.
The ruling has caused confusion and is applied inconsistently
in Minnesota school districts; some treat the data as public
while others don't. The law requires districts to collect data
on home-schoolers, ranging from immunization documentation to
report cards in some cases.
Last month state Sen. Dave Knutson, R-Burnsville, said he
intended to introduce a similar bill in the state Legislature.
But Kennedy said the issue is larger than Minnesota.
"This is a national problem. We ought to protect across the
country. This would treat all students the same. You could
solve on the state level, but this should clear up confusion
across the country," Kennedy said.
Kennedy's bill wouldn't prevent gathering data on home-schoolers
but rather disseminating it. In Wisconsin, the state collects
home-school data but considers it private.
The congressman hopes to pass the bill this year, but it has a
lot of hurdles before it passes. Republican leadership in the
House could fast track the bill for Kennedy, who is seeking
re-election, but the bill still must pass the