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Recently, Illinois State Representative Scott Drury introduced legislation to amend Illinois law to place additional privacy protections on Illinois school student records. The proposed legislation, (House Bill 4558, introduced on February 4, 2014) amends the Illinois School Student Records Act to (a) include in the definition of student records any numbers and other designations assigned to students by schools that identify specific students, and (b) require affirmative and specific consent by the parent (or student if the student has reached 18 years of age) for any disclosure of any student record to third-parties for “research, statistical reporting, planning, audits or evaluation.”  According to the proposed amendment, each disclosure must be authorized by a prior written and dated consent specifically identifying the person to whom the records are being released.  Additionally, the parent or age-of-majority student must be advised, prior to giving consent, the purpose of the release of the information, and that they have a right to inspect the records to be disclosed, a right to copy them, a right to challenge the contents of the records, and a right to limit the consent to specific records or portions thereof.   

The bill, which now has a number of additional sponsors, has passed through the relevant House committee and is now scheduled for its Third Reading before the full Illinois House.   

Clients that work with educational institutions in Illinois, and that gather or handle “School Student Records” as defined in the Act, should monitor this legislation as its passage will likely have an impact on the requirements that the school places on you with respect to the services you provide.  Likewise, clients that do business with schools in the future should be mindful of the laws each state has that specifically protect the privacy of student records and information over and above the requirements of other, more general privacy laws.