New Student Privacy Policy Office to Oversee FERPA

The U.S. Department of Education recently restructured its Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development to include a new Student Privacy Office (“SPPO”).  This change followed a directive from the White House (Executive Order 13781) which called for greater efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability in federal agencies. Essentially, it required the elimination of unnecessary agencies.

The SPPO investigates and enforces complaints from parents and eligible students regarding their rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and provides technical assistance to parents and students who feel their rights under FERPA or PPRA were violated.  The SPPO also develops policy and guidance on student privacy policy issues and provides assistance to educational agencies, institutions, and the broader education community on issues related to statutory and regulatory compliance, as well as best practices for protecting student privacy.  Previously, these activities were carried out through the now defunct Office of Management’s Office of the Chief Privacy Officer.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education consolidated the Office of Innovation and Improvement and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. President Trump and the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, have also proposed combining the Education and Labor departments, but this is a merger that requires approval by Congress.

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