BOISE -- Two Republican senators now have dueling bills, both involving protecting student data and information. With the session likely winding down, the Senate Education Committee voted to consider both bills.

Chairman's 'Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014' proposal

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d'Alene) has presented a bill he says he spent months working on with stakeholders, including the Idaho Department of Education and Idaho State Board of Education.

Goedde's bill calls for the Idaho State Board of Education to develop, implement and oversee a policy for districts for the storage and protection of student data. Districts would also develop individual policies to allow only appropriate educational authorities to use the data.

The bill states student data could include standardized test results, transcript information, birth dates, grade levels, attendance and demographic data. The bill also clarifies a student's educational record should not include most criminal records, social security numbers, medical records, biometric information, gun ownership records, sexual orientation and religious affiliation. Parents and legal guardians can request their own student's records.

Goedde says his seven page bill is now in its sixth or seventh version since working with stakeholders.

Committee member's competing proposal for student records security

Following Goedde's bill introduction, Sen. Monty Pearce (R- New Plymouth) submitted a routing slip (RS), asking for his proposed legislation to be printed as a bill for consideration. Pearce's proposal directly competes with Goedde's bill, but the committee unanimously agreed to print and consider his ideas.

Pearce provided KTVB with a copy of his RS, which he said certainly goes farther than Goedde's bill. Pearce's proposal includes more restrictions on the types of data that can be collected and who can access the data.

The RS as presented Monday would allow data like names and addresses of parents, course grades, attendance and immunization records to be collected. The proposal specifically does not allow collection (without parent consent) of medical records including height and weight, data collected via affected computing such as analysis of facial expressions and blood volume, and family religious or political affiliation.

Pearce's proposal also prohibits schools from using video monitoring in classrooms, including for teacher evaluations, unless there are public school board hearings and the teacher, all students and parents consent.

Like Goedde's bill, Pearce's proposal also allows for parents to obtain copies of the files their child's school has on record. Pearce's bill calls for specific plans for breaches in security so parents and students would be notified as well as the U.S. Department of Education.

Committee votes to consider both bills

During the Monday's committee meeting, Goedde said he would not block Pearce's attempt to print his bill, but did express concerns.

If it's the will of the committee to further the discussion by sending the unanimous consent request on the RS to a privileged committee, we will do that, Goedde said during the meeting. I checked with both the State Department and State Board of Education, and the RS has not been vetted with either of them, which gives me some concern.

Committee members indicated student data must be addressed and legislation must be passed this session. With that, there was concern if Pearce's bill could realistically get through by the end of session, which lawmakers have said could be in a few weeks.

With less than three weeks before us, hopefully, in this session, there may not be time to run the RS through the process, but I would suggest something needs to come out of this legislative session, one way or another, Goedde said.

Majority Caucus Chair Senator Russ Fulcher, who is also on the education committee, said he believed Pearce's RS could go through in time if the committee held hearings in a timely manner. Committee members said they'd like to consider both Goedde's and Pearce's ideas before deciding.

I would hope that we could get something in place we could actually get through the Legislature this year, Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise) said. I think it's a big concern for parents, and I think it would serve us well to have a bill in place, even if we have to come back and revisit it later.

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