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    Capitol News Service: Student privacy bill spurs debate in Augusta, Maine

    The Capitol News Service reports on a debate in the Maine legislature about a bill to protect student privacy.

    Students, parents and school administrators all told lawmakers the Department of Education should stop collecting the names of students disciplined by schools and keeping them in a database, but Commissioner Susan Gendron warned that could jeopardize all federal funds for education that come to the state. […]

    Gendron said that while the state is collecting the disciplinary information, it reports the information only as aggregate data without the students’ identification numbers. She said individual data are confidential by law and protected from release.

    Others questioned the need for the Department of Education to collect the data and whether the agency is able to adequately protect the privacy of the information, noting there have been numerous federal agency data breaches.

    [Jason Hamilton, a senior at Hampden Academy,] said it does not seem fair that if he committed a crime as a juvenile, that record is not kept after he turns 18, but a record of a suspension for a playground fight in elementary school would be in a Department of Education database. He was one of several students testifying in support of banning the collection of names as part of the Department of Education database. […]

    The bill now will be considered at a workshop of the committee, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. The bill then will go before the full Legislature with the recommendation of the panel whether it should be passed or needs to be amended.

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