WASHINGTON (EWTN News) — A U.S. Congressman from Illinois has introduced a bill that would “restore fairness and equality to home-schoolers nationwide” by extending to home-schoolers the educational- record privacy laws that currently apply only to public and private-school students.
Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., and Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, held a Sept. 20 press conference to announce H.R. 2910, the Family Educational Records Privacy Extension Act, which Hultgren introduced in Congress last week.
“Many states require that parents file records regarding their home-school children with public-education officials, but these records are not protected” under current laws, Hultgren said.
“My bill is a simple remedy that will protect the privacy of and afford equal treatment under the law for those students who are educated at home.”
In 1974, Congress passed the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of students in public and private schools by guaranteeing that their parents have certain rights over their educational records.
Hultgren explained that “under most circumstances, a school must have a parent’s written permission before it can release any information from a student’s record.”
But the privacy of children taught at home was not addressed in the act, since home schooling was not common at the time.
Now home schooling is much more widespread, with the U.S. Department of Education estimating that there are more than 1.5 million home-schooled students in America.
Estrada said that the “unintentional oversight” in the original act of Congress has led to the privacy of millions of home-schoolers being put at risk.
He cited several instances in which school districts and courts have attempted to release personal information about home-schooled students without the consent of their parents.
“These home-school records need to be protected,” said Estrada.
Hultgren said that his bill would extend the same protection to homes-choolers that is currently guaranteed to students of public and private schools.
If passed, the bill would allow a home-schooled student’s records, like those of a public or private-school student, to be released only with written permission from a parent or guardian.
The congressman explained that his personal experiences had motivated him to introduce the bill. He said that each of his four children has been home-schooled at some point in their education.
“As a parent, I share the concerns that the vast majority of members of the home-school community have about their children’s privacy,” he said.
Hultgren said that although he is “just getting started” with the bill, he has yet not heard any opposition to it.
“I think we’ll know more over the next days and weeks if there is any opposition.”