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New Database Could Jeopardize Homeschool Privacy

Beginning in the 2006-2007 school year, a new statewide student database will replace many other data collection programs in Nebraska, including the school census. The Nebraska Student and Staff Record System (NSSRS) will be a comprehensive source of all public and private school student information.

School districts are expected to gather student data and pass it on to the Nebraska Department of Education (DOE), where it will be reviewed, approved, and stored in the “production data warehouse” for use by school officials. All student data will be organized by unique student identifiers, which were assigned to public school and accredited private school students in 2005.

One of the most important types of information that will be processed through the database will be that used to calculate state aid to education. In the past, districts summarized and reported their own student census numbers to the DOE to receive state funding. From now on, however, the student numbers determining how much money each district receives will be furnished by the database. This means local school districts have a new incentive to include homeschoolers in the database.

If your child is enrolled in a public school or accredited private school (whether full- or part-time), that student’s records will be permanently stored in the NSSRS. Homeschool students, however, are not supposed to be included in the database-yet. Home School Legal Defense Association will be monitoring this situation carefully to ensure that homeschoolers retain their “unlisted7rdquo; status.

— by Scott W. Somerville