RICHMOND — The Virginia General Assembly is one step closer to closing a loophole that allows students’ personal contact information to be public information.
By a vote of 62-35, the House of Delegates passed HB 1 by Del. Tony Wilt, R-Rockingham, that would exempt student contact information from publicly available records unless students or their parents explicitly say otherwise.
All of the “no” votes came from Democrats. Del. Chris Hurst, D-Blacksburg, who introduced his own legislation to close the same loophole, opposed Wilt’s bill. Hurst’s bill failed in a House subcommittee last month.
Wilt’s legislation would require Virginia K-12 schools, colleges and universities to obtain written permission from a student or parent before releasing a student’s address, phone number or email address to a third-party group. Currently, schools have an “opt-out” system that exempts students who ask to be removed from student directories.
Last year, progressive political groups used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain thousands of student cellphone numbers included in college and university campus directories.
“Protecting personal student information is more important than furthering any political campaign, political activist group, or marketing effort,” Wilt said in a statement.
The state Senate has passed a related bill introduced by Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County.