COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 172

September 1, 2006

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Further Information Regarding the Requirements of HB 1242

 

On May 5, 2006, via Superintendents Memorandum 101, Informational, we provided you with information regarding legislation passed by the 2006 session of the Virginia General Assembly. We also indicated that a separate superintendents memorandum would be issued to provide additional information on HB 1242 that concerns the administration of questionnaires or surveys to students. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide you with that information.

 

HB 1242 amended 22.1-79.3 of the Code of Virginia. It provides that in any case in which a questionnaire or survey requesting sexual information of students is to be administered, the school board shall notify the parent concerning the administration of such questionnaire or survey in writing not less than 30 days prior to its administration. The notice must inform the parent regarding the nature and types of questions included, the purposes and age-appropriateness of the survey, and whether and how any findings or results will be disclosed. It further provides that parents shall have the right to review the questionnaire or survey and to exempt their child from participating in the survey. It prohibits the administration of any questionnaire or survey requesting sexual information to students in kindergarten through grade six and, unless required by federal or state law or regulation, school personnel administering the questionnaire or survey shall not disclose personally identifiable information.

 

In accordance with this legislation, school divisions must notify parents of these surveys, and the parents must exempt their child if they do not want him to participate.

 

Federal law, however, prescribes different requirements for the administration of such surveys. The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), 20 U.S.C. section 1232h., governs the administration of a survey, analysis, or evaluation that concerns one or more of eight protected areas. One of these areas is sexual behaviors or attitudes. Under PPRA, school divisions must provide parents and students with effective notice of their rights. The notice must explain, among other things, that for surveys that contain questions about one or more of the protected areas, including sexual behavior and attitudes, and that are funded in whole or in part by United States Department of Education (USED) funds, the school division must obtain prior written consent from parents before students are required to submit to the survey.

 

Therefore, while HB 1242 requires school divisions to provide parents with the opportunity to exempt their children from all such surveys, federal law requires school divisions to obtain prior written consent from parents for their childrens participation if the survey is in whole or in part funded with USED funds.

 

PPRA has several additional requirements that are of importance to school divisions. Please contact your school board attorney for assistance in the application of the PPRA requirements.

 

BKC/MJP/jcj