With the end of summer comes falling leaves, football, and OSBA’s legal hotline abuzz with enrollment questions throughout the state. One of those questions: our school district requests a student’s social security number (SSN) to enroll students. What do we do if the parent doesn’t provide one?
Under the Privacy Act of 1974, a school district may not prevent a student from enrollment for failure to provide their SSN or proof the student has an SSN.
School districts are permitted to ask for a SSN upon registration, but if it does so, the district must (1) inform the student and parent that providing the SSN is voluntary, and refusing to provide the SSN will not bar the child from enrolling or attending school, and (2) explain for what purpose the number will be used.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights have issued joint guidance on this matter. A short fact sheet about information on the rights of all children to enroll in school can be found here, and a longer FAQ can be found here.