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I’m in high school. In my school, students are given Chromebooks with the software called GoGuardian automatically installed, as well as Securly. For some background, GoGuardian saves information and screenshots of what a student is seeing on the Chromebook. Every student is required to have this software, and it is monitored often. I am taking an online course that falls under FERPA laws. This course is run by a university and the university insists that my parents are not able to see any information about the course. I don’t believe I have signed any documents giving my rights away to allow monitoring, but my parents did sign a document allowing monitoring on the Chromebook. I have read the law and it did seem to say that it is illegal, but as a high school student with no law experience, I would assume my judgement may not be accurate. Is the school monitoring my course and all of the information for my course legal? If this is legal, do I have rights regarding this information that is taken from me? I am willing to give any context that would be required.

  • Is this university course part of your high school curriculum? Or is it something you are doing completely separate from HS on your own, and you just happen to want to use the Chromebook for it? – BlueDogRanch Aug 19 at 3:43
  • I completely missed your comment, sorry. This course is offered by a university and I am completing it during school, using a school Chromebook. – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 5:19
  • I can't tell if you're concerned with your parents monitoring your uni coursework or the local school district or both. – mkennedy Aug 19 at 17:36
  • I’m fine with my parents monitoring, it’s just the school I’m concerned about. – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 17:37
  • Leave open - not asking for a specific course of action. – A. K. Aug 23 at 18:01
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You're under 18, so you're viewed as a minor under the law, and as such, you can't agree to and sign legally binding contracts. Your parents must sign for you, and you really have no choice in parental guardian-type duties, such as education. It's perfectly legal for them to sign to allow monitoring on the laptop, as a condition of you using it as school property for your education.

Is the school monitoring my course and all of the information for my course legal?

Yes. It the school's Chromebook, and you parents agreed to your use of it for educational purposes. If the HS is presenting the university course, they have presumably worked out the FERPA issues, as you are a minor and your parents do have the authority to see your work.

If this is legal, do I have rights regarding this information that is taken from me?

Not really. Once you're 18, you can fight the power. Until then, you're a minor.

  • Under FERPA I am considered a college student. This means I am sort of 18 – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 4:49
  • And they absolutely have not worked out FERPA rules, this post is definitely to confirm legalities that they did not confirm themselves. They have not spoken in much conversation with the university in question, and my parents were required to do most of the work with the course set up. – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 4:52
  • How do you know "they absolutely have not worked out FERPA rules"? And what exactly did your parents do that was required for the course set up? And you are not "sort of 18"; you're 18 or you're not. – BlueDogRanch Aug 19 at 4:55
  • My parents did the entire course set up, the only reason the school is involved is for billing, which is yet to be set up. This is why I know they didn’t figure it out. Also, I’m the second ever student to do this at this school. And I am considered the same as any other college student according to FERPA. – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 5:02
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It is not clear whether you are an eligible student under FERPA regulations. Since you are apparently under 18, the question is whether you are "attending an institution of postsecondary education" – the regulations do not say what it means to "attend" an institution. Regardless of whether you are an eligible student, FERPA regulations only limit disclosure of student records (they are creating records via this monitoring), and there is no limit on the records that they can create. So your permission is not required to create records (regardless of whether you are an eligible student). FERPA limits disclosure, but also guarantees the right of access by the student or the parent – whether the parent has access rights depends on whether the student is legally an "eligible student".

The university might adopt a legal stance to the effect that any person enrolled in a university-sponsored class is "attending" the university, which would mean that they can deny parents access to the records of their children (whereas your high school cannot deny your parents access to those records, until you turn 18). That does not mean that the university's position is legally correct: if your parents want access to your records, they could sue the university and we might get a court ruling about what "attending" means, in the context of FERPA.

So the only practical limit on access to the Chromebook information is that your parents might gain access, if you are found not to be an eligible student. Apparently, the university takes the position that you are, so they would have to sue to get access to that information. There is no limit on the monitoring that can be done.

  • I do like this answer, and I would like to confirm that I am an eligible student according to the university offering the course. However, you are saying that FERPA provides minimal protections against schools taking information, and only really protects against parents? – Grant Garrison Aug 19 at 5:16

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