Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) - Summary of Requirements

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Statute:  20 U.S.C. § 1232h.  Regulations:  34 CFR Part 98.

PPRA applies to the programs and activities of a State educational agency (SEA), local educational agency (LEA), or other recipient of funds under any program funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  It governs the administration to students of a survey, analysis, or evaluation that concerns one or more of the following eight protected areas:

  1. political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
  2. mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
  3. sex behavior or attitudes;
  4. illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
  5. critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
  6. legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
  7. religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or,
  8. income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).

PPRA also concerns marketing surveys and other areas of student privacy, parental access to information, and the administration of certain physical examinations to minors.  The rights under PPRA transfer from the parents to a student who is 18 years old or an emancipated minor under State law.

LEAs must provide parents and eligible students effective notice of their rights under PPRA.  The notice must explain that an LEA is required to obtain prior written consent from parents before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the eight protected areas listed above, if the survey is funded in whole or in part by Department funds.  For surveys that contain questions from one or more of the eight protected areas that are not funded in whole or in part with Department funds, LEAs must notify a parent at least annually, at the beginning of the school year, of the specific or approximate date(s) of the survey and provide the parent with an opportunity to opt his or her child out of participating.  LEAs must also notify parents that they have the right to review, upon request, any instructional materials used in connection with any survey that concerns one or more of the eight protected areas and those used as part of the educational curriculum.

PPRA requires LEAs to work with parents to develop and adopt policies on the following items, unless the LEA or SEA had established comparable policies on or before January 8, 2002:

  • The right of parents to inspect, upon request, a survey created by a third party before the survey is administered or distributed by a school to students and the procedure for granting a request by a parent for such access;
  • Arrangements to protect student privacy that are provided by the LEA in the event of the administration of a survey to students containing one or more of the eight protected items of information noted above (including the right of parents to inspect, upon request, a survey that concerns one or more of the eight protected items of information);
  • The right of parents to inspect, upon request, any instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum for students, and the procedure for granting a request by a parent for such access;
  • Administration of physical exams or screenings of students;
  • The collection, disclosure, or use of personal information (including items such as a student’s or parent’s first and last name, address, telephone number or social security number) collected from students for marketing purposes, or to sell or otherwise provide the information to others for marketing purposes, including the LEA’s arrangements for protecting student privacy in the event of collection, disclosure, or use of information for these purposes; and
  • The right of parents to inspect, upon request, any instrument used in the collection of personal information for marketing or sales purposes before the instrument is administered or distributed to a student and the LEA’s procedure for granting a parent’s request for such access.

LEAs must notify parents of their rights under PPRA and of these policies at least annually at the beginning of the school year.  LEAs must also notify parents within a reasonable period of time if any substantive change is made to the policies.  (This notification requirement may be included in the general notification of rights under PPRA.)  An LEA is not required to develop and adopt new policies if the SEA or LEA had in place on January 8, 2002, policies covering the requirements set forth in this law.  However, the LEA must still provide annual notice of these policies to parents.

In addition, an LEA must “directly” notify, such as through U.S. Mail or email, parents of students who are scheduled to participate in the specific activities or surveys listed below and provide an opportunity for parents to opt their child out of participation in the specific survey or activity.  The notification must be provided at least annually at the beginning of the school year and must provide the specific or approximate dates during the school year when activities described below are scheduled, or expected to be scheduled.  If the LEA is unable to identify the specific or approximate dates of the activities or surveys requiring specific notification at the beginning of the school year, it must provide this notification to parents once the activity or survey is scheduled.  Parents should be provided reasonable notification of the planned activities and surveys and be provided an opportunity to opt their child out, as well as be provided with an opportunity to review any pertinent surveys.  A model specific notification for use by LEAs is attached and may also be obtained on the Web site noted at the end of this guidance.  LEAs must offer an opportunity for parents to opt their child out of participating in the following activities:

  • The administration of any survey concerning one or more of the eight protected areas listed above if it is not funded in whole or in part with Department funds.  (LEAs must obtain active consent, and may not use an opt-out procedure, if the survey is funded in whole or in part with Department funds);
  • Activities involving the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for marketing purposes, or to sell or otherwise provide the information to others for marketing purposes; and
  • Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening that is 1) required as a condition of attendance; 2) administered by the school and scheduled by the school in advance; and 3) not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of the student, or of other students.  This law does not apply to any physical examination or screening that is permitted or required by State law, including physical examinations or screenings permitted without parental notification.

PPRA does not preempt applicable provisions of State law that require parental notification.  Also, requirements concerning activities involving the collection and disclosure of personal information from students for marketing purposes do not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for or to students or educational institutions, such as the following:

  1. College or other postsecondary education recruitment, or military recruitment;
  2. Book clubs, magazines, and programs providing access to low-cost literary products;
  3. Curriculum and instructional materials used by elementary schools and secondary schools;
  4. Tests and assessments used by elementary schools and secondary schools to provide cognitive, evaluative, diagnostic, clinical, aptitude, or achievement information about students (or to generate other statistically useful data for the purpose of securing such tests and assessments) and the subsequent analysis and public release of the aggregate data from such tests and assessments;
  5. The sale by students of products or services to raise funds for school-related or education-related activities; and
  6. Student recognition programs.

Definitions of some terms used in PPRA:

“Instructional Material” – instructional content that is provided to a student, regardless of its format, including printed or representational materials, audio-visual materials, and materials in electronic or digital formats (such as materials accessible through the Internet).  The term does not include academic tests or academic assessments.

“Invasive Physical Examination” – any medical examination that involves the exposure of private body parts, or any act during such examination that includes incision, insertion, or injection into the body, but does not include a hearing, vision, or scoliosis screening.

“Personal Information” – individually identifiable information including –

            (1) a student’s or parent’s first and last name;

            (2) a home or other physical address (including a street name and the name of a city or town);

            (3) a telephone number; or,

            (4) a social security number.