- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - Republican lawmakers concerned schools are administering surveys to mine students’ personal information advanced a measure Thursday to require parental consent.

Gun ownership, sexual behavior, voting history and religious practices are among the data that Republican Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, wants to protect without the express written consent of parents.

The bill would require a parent’s signature and initials in five different places for a teacher to give a survey that becomes part of a student’s permanent record and asks for personal information.

That’s despite Arizona school associations saying the proposal would burden districts and teachers. “If one signature is missing, the district would be in violation of this law,” said Heather Cruz, president-elect of the Arizona School Administrators organization.

Penalties for not following the law would require a school, charter school or school district to pay a $250 fee for a first offense and at least $1,000 for a third violation plus attorney fees.



The Senate Education Committee passed House Bill 2088 on a 5-2 vote. The House passed the bill last week. It now undergoes a standard review before moving to a Senate vote.

Republicans say the proposal is necessary to protect children and their families from divulging private information in an era where data collection is so pervasive.

“You know this problem with privacy has become an absolute epidemic. None of us have any privacy any more in our lives,” said Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake.

Andrew LeFevre, who lobbies for the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission, said the measure could endanger millions of dollars in grant funding used to prevent substance abuse.

That’s because the bill in its current form could limit the number of students who participate in the Arizona Youth Survey, an anonymous study used to gauge how students feel about their community and if they use drugs or engage in other risky behaviors, LeFevre said.

Allen, the committee chair, said that the youth survey would not likely be included in the proposal because it is anonymous and would not become part of a student’s permanent record.

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