Federal

Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights

By Benjamin Herold — March 20, 2018 1 min read

The chief privacy officer in the U.S. Education Department was reassigned and replaced on an interim basis as part of a broader reorganization that could have big implications for how the federal government supports schools and districts in protecting student privacy.

Kathleen Styles, a lawyer licensed to practice in Texas and the District of Columbia, has filled the department’s chief privacy officer role since it was created in 2011. Effective April 1, she will be replaced by the department’s current deputy chief privacy officer, Angela Arrington, a computer scientist and long-time veteran of the department.

The office of the chief privacy officer is responsible for functions including administering two of the country’s major federal student-privacy laws, developing the Education Department’s privacy-related policies and guidance, and providing technical assistance to help education entities navigate student-privacy issues.

Under Styles, the office has expanded the scope of the department’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center, issuing guidance and best-practices documents on a wide range of privacy-related issues, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.

Vowing Continuity

During a public appearance last week at the annual conference of the Consortium for School Networking in Washington, the department’s director of student privacy policy, Michael Hawes, said the agency’s work will continue unimpeded as the current shakeup unfolds. Parents who believe their rights have been violated under FERPA can continue to file complaints with the department’s privacy compliance office, and the department’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center has not stopped accepting requests for help from schools and vendors.

Beyond the personnel shuffle, a larger reorganization is apparently underway.

In a statement, Elizabeth Hill, an Education Department spokeswoman, said the Family Policy Compliance Office, which is currently part of the office of the chief privacy officer, “will enforce FERPA compliance and provide technical assistance as required by statute.”

Some privacy advocates, however, have expressed concern about the potential implications of such a shift.

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2018 edition of Education Week as Shakeup in Office Overseeing Student Privacy Rights

Events

Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
How Principals Can Support Student Well-Being During COVID
Join this webinar for tips on how to support and prioritize student health and well-being during COVID.
Content provided by Unruly Studios

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Interdisciplinary STEAM Specialist
Smyrna, Georgia
St. Benedict's Episcopal School
Arizona School Data Analyst - (AZVA)
Arizona, United States
K12 Inc.
Software Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Federal Biden Legal Team Steps Back From Trump Stance on Transgender Female Sports Participation
The Education Department's office for civil rights pulls a letter that said Connecticut's transgender-inclusive policy violates Title IX.
4 min read
Bloomfield High School transgender athlete Terry Miller, second from left, wins the final of the 55-meter dash over transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood, far left, and other runners in the Connecticut girls Class S indoor track meet at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn on Feb. 7, 2019. Transgender athletes are getting an ally in the White House next week as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports. Attorneys on both sides say they expect President-elect Joe Biden’s Department of Education will switch sides in legal battles that could go a long way in determining whether transgender athletes are treated by the sex on their birth certificates or by how they identify.
Bloomfield High School transgender athlete Terry Miller, second from left, wins over transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood, far left, and other runners in an event in New Haven, Conn. The two transgender athletes are at the center of a legal fight in Connecticut over the participation of transgender female athletes in girls' or women's sports.
Pat Eaton-Robb/AP
Federal Congress Again Tries to Pass Eagles Act, Focused on School Shootings After Parkland
A group of bipartisan Congressional lawmakers is once again trying to get a law passed aimed at preventing school violence.
Devoun Cetoute & Carli Teproff
2 min read
Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2019 during the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Suzanne Devine Clark, an art teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School, places painted stones at a memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2019 during the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Some Districts Extend Paid Leave Policies as They Hope for Passage of Biden Relief Plan
With federal provisions having expired, some school employees have had to dip into their own banks of leave for COVID-19 purposes.
5 min read
Linda Davila-Macal, a seventh grade reading teacher at BL Garza Middle School in Edinburg, Texas, works from her virtual classroom at her home on Aug. 31, 2020.
A teacher leads a virtual classroom from her home.
Delcia Lopez/The Monitor via AP
Federal President Biden Is Walking a 'Careful Tightrope' When It Comes to School Reopenings
CDC guidance and confusion over his rhetoric turn up the pressure, and could overshadow progress in schools and nuanced public opinion.
9 min read
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event at Pabst Theater in Milwaukee on Feb. 16, 2021.
President Joe Biden answers questions during a televised town hall event in Milwaukee earlier this month.
Evan Vucci/AP