When COVID-19 hit and our schools went to remote learning, parents and kids had no idea they’d opened the door to their schools spying on them. Even before COVID-19, schools were sending kids home with tablets and laptops that present serious privacy issues. Technology and programs intended to keep kids’ attention focused on education have the ability to surveil students, track their computer activity, and gather data ranging from web searches to photos inside students’ homes. Worse, it’s often unclear just what information schools and technology companies are gathering from students, or what they are doing with it.

Our constitutional rights to privacy should not end just because laws protecting students’ information have not kept up with technology. That’s why the ACLU of Minnesota is working to pass the Student Data Privacy Act (HF 341/SF 2307)

We need your help.

We need you to find out what information your school has collected on you and your child or children, and consider sharing it with us. We’re looking for examples to show state lawmakers how serious this issue is.

If you want to help us in this fight, follow these simple steps:`

1. Go to this link at Student Data Privacy Project’s website to get an easy template to request your own data. Fill in the request form (name, state, email) and hit send. This will start an automatic download of the template. Fill it out with your family’s details.

2. Find the contacts at your school who will process your request. These include your district staff, superintendent, and school board.

Do this by going to your district’s website. Look up “STUDENT RECORDS” or “FERPA.” If that doesn’t work, search the site for these terms:

  • “[YOUR DISTRICT]” and “STUDENT RECORDS” and “FERPA”.
  • “[YOUR DISTRICT]” and “SUPERINTENDENT” and “CONTACT.”
  • “[YOUR DISTRICT]” and “SCHOOL BOARD” and “CONTACT.”

Gather all of these email addresses. Build a paper trail: Copying your district superintendent, school board members and/or generic school board contact on your email request can expedite processing and ensure that your request is seen.

3.  Send your email

Copy the letter from the template into the body of your email, and attach a copy of that document to the email. Add a subject line that makes your request obvious, like STUDENT DATA PRIVACY REQUEST.

4. Wait.

That’s it. Your district has 45 days to provide any records. If you haven’t seen anything within 45 days, feel free to send another email reminding them that the deadline has arrived and you are still expecting them to respond.

5. Share  – what you’re comfortable sharing — with ACLU of Minnesota.

When you receive your response, please let ACLU-MN know. Email us at communications@aclu-mn.org. We are working at the Capitol this year ensure our students’ privacy is respected. We would love your help in this fight.