New Law Protects Personal Info of Students, Public Employees

Mike Seals - May 11, 2021 12:10 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor has signed into law two measures that will protect the privacy of students as well as public employees such as teachers, police officers and others.

House Bills 1875 and 1876 both were authored by Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City. Both measures passed unanimously in both the House and state Senate.

“In this day and age when our personal information is being harvested and sold so that it can be used for everything from unwanted marketing to actual harm for members of our law enforcement community, I am thrilled that the governor sees the value of these important protections,” West said. I’m grateful for the overwhelming support of my co-legislators who also saw the necessity of these changes to state statute.”

House Bill 1875 prohibits the release or sale of student directory information by any entity other than the school district that is the primary custodian of the information. West said the bill strengthens and clarifies the language in statute, removing all doubt of how student information is to be protected and kept private. This will help keep students safe from potential predators, she said.

House Bill 1876 will keep private the home addresses, personal telephone numbers, Social Security numbers and private email addresses of current and former public employees. The measure also clarifies and extends an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act that keeps the personal information mentioned above from public inspection or disclosure.

West said she received input on the measures from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, the State Department of Education and the Oklahoma Press Association, which has an interest in open records. All support this change, and it has the blessing of law enforcement and teachers as well, she said.

West ran similar bills last year, but they were sidelined by COVID.

Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, was the Senate author of both bills.

“These measures will protect information that could otherwise be used for anything from unwanted solicitations to actual criminal behavior like harassment, stalking and identity theft.  I am grateful I was able to work on these bills with Representative West, and I thank our fellow members and our governor for their support.”

 

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