The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232h; 34 CFR Part 98) applies to student surveys, instructional materials or evaluations funded by the federal government that deal with highly sensitive issues.

Parents have the right of written consent before their children are required to participate in any federally funded survey, analysis or evaluation dealing with information concerning:

  • Political affiliations;
  • Mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student and his/her family;
  • Religious affiliations and beliefs;
  • Sex behavior and attitudes;
  • Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior;
  • Critical appraisals of individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
  • Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; or
  • Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for a program).

If the survey, analysis or evaluation that deals with any of these issues is not federally funded, written consent is not required but parents must be notified in advance of the survey and have the right to opt their children out of participating.

In either case, schools and/or their contractors must make these instructional materials or surveys available for inspection by parents ahead of time, to allow them to decide whether to consent or opt out.

The PPRA also grants parents the right to receive notice and an opportunity to opt their children out of:

Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening administered by the school unnecessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under State law; and

Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information obtained from students for marketing or to sell or otherwise distribute the information to others.

For more information about PPRA, visit the US Department of Education website.