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Home > Rules & Legislation > Letters from the Commissioner > Informational Letters > Letter 86

 

INFORMATONAL LETTER:  86
POLICY CODE:  JF/KLL

 

TO:                Superintendents of Schools, Assistant Superintendents, School Principals, and Special Education Directors

FROM:           Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:            March 19, 2007

RE:                CLARIFICATION RE:  the MEDMS Safe and Drug Free Schools Module and the Disclosure of Student’s Names

 

There have been inquiries regarding the disclosure of students’ names in the reporting on MEDMS. The MEDMS Safe and Drug Free School Module includes students’ names because this student level data is needed to create the aggregated demographic and program data reports requested by the federal Office of Substance Abuse, and the US Department of Education, including  the US DOE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) which requests the number of special education students that received suspensions of a certain length of time and requires targeted technical assistance under the SPP. 20 USCS § 1416.

The Family Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allows local educational agencies (LEAs) to disclose personally identifiable information to the State educational agency in connection with “an audit or evaluation of Federal or State supported education programs or for the enforcement of or compliance with Federal legal requirements which relate to those programs.” 34 C.F.R. 99.35.

The MEDMS system is specifically designed to keep the burden of creating federally required reports here with the State, instead of imposing it on each school administrative unit (SAU).  Once Maine’s SAUs report to the State using MEDMS and student level data, the State can then do the disaggregating as needed for federal reporting purposes.

The design of the MEDMS module was led by the Department staff member who was then the lead Department of Education staff person for the Safe and Drug Free Schools program.  The development and implementation of MEDMS has been done with input from focus groups of SAU administrators, to ensure that their experience is considered as this system is developed and evolves.   Work done here on MEDMS follows the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) guidelines put forth by the US Department of Education (US DOE) for both the collection, by the Maine Department of Education, of the data from SAUs and for the reporting of the data to the public.  Included is the NCES website for your review: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/safety/index.asp ;  please see Chapter 3 on reporting data (to the public) and Chapter 4 on collecting data (from the SAUs).

The Department and the SAUs must comply with FERPA in reporting any data on incidents to the public.  Likewise, in the collection and storage of student record data, confidentiality must be protected at both the State and local level, as it is with paper copies of confidential information. 

Student level data at both the State and the local level is protected from public disclosure under FERPA, so any reporting on unsafe schools and the unsafe school choice option that is provided to the public is done without any personally identifiable student information. 

  MEDMS ensures confidentiality and security around access through secure passwords and other measures.  Please contact Bill Hurwitch (bill.hurwitch@maine.gov ) here at the Department if you have any questions about the security measures that are in place at the local level.  Please contact Dana Duncan (dana.duncan@maine.gov ) if you have any questions about what special education data is on the SPP Report Card.