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Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies

4.C. Training Agency Staff

Training all agency staff, even those who do not have access to individual education records, is important to ensure that education records are handled correctly. Training could include:

  • What is the appropriate and inappropriate access and use of data or information contained in the education records. (For instance, a staff member may have a legitimate access right to a student’s education record for making placement decisions. That same staff member may not have a right to view the records of other students for whom he or she does not have responsibilities. Persons who are not authorized to see personally identifiable data should be informed why they are denied access if they are in positions where they must work with students.)
  • How to ask questions when access decisions need to be made.
  • How to handle problems when there are misunderstandings.
  • Exactly what is expected in each data collection document and any other important procedural details.
  • How to protect information while it is being collected or used. (For instance, staff should not leave education record files opened on their desks or showing on their computers when they step away from their desks.)
  • What are the key aspects of information security, such as physical network security, software security, and user access security.

It is important to extend the training to nonemployees, such as school volunteers and contractors who are hired by the agency. Also, training materials should be updated periodically to reflect recent changes in federal and state requirements. Any special requirements related to specific data collection documents or procedures should be included.