Despite what you might be hearing, the Wake County school system hasn't gotten permission from the federal government to resume using school lunch data to promote socioeconomically diverse student assignments.
The liberal N.C. Policy Watch reported Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Education had "issued a regulation permitting schools to use to information about children’s eligibility for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program as a means of determining students’ socioeconomic status for school assignment purposes."
The group wrote that the "DOE regulation expressly negates" a February email from a U.S. Department of Agriculture official telling Wake that its prior use of the school lunch data violated student privacy laws.
"The USDA and DOE intend to jointly issue guidance for use by the educational community which will be in line with this new regulation," according to N.C. Policy Watch.
Well, not so fast.
What N.C. Policy Watch was talking about was revisions to the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) that were released by the U.S. Department of Education on Dec. 1. Go to pages 6 and 7 for a discussion on FERPA and school lunch program data.
But Daren Briscoe, deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, said they're not talking in the document about student assignment. He said they were clarifying that the school lunch data can be released for things like conducting longitudinal studies and program evaluations.