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Local Control and Accountability Confidentiality


Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

Purpose: Policy, Beneficial Information

To: All School Nutrition Program Operators

Attention: Food Service Directors, Chief Business Officials, and District Superintendents

Number: SNP-02-2018

Date: May 2018

Reference: California Education Code Section 49558

Subject: Clarification on the Sharing of Individual Student Eligibility Information for Local Control and Accountability Plan Purposes


This management bulletin provides clarification on the sharing of individual student school meal eligibility information for the purpose of implementing the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and for assessing accountability of funding through a local educational agency’s (LEA) Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

Background

Federal law under the U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations permits LEAs to disclose the names and eligibility status of students participating in the free and reduced-price (F/RP) meal program without parental consent under certain circumstances. One of those circumstances is if disclosure of the information is necessary for the administration of a state’s educational program(s). State law, pursuant to California Education Code (EC) Section 49558, was traditionally more limited than federal law, prohibiting LEAs from sharing the names and eligibility status of students participating in the F/RP meal program without parental consent, even if the disclosure was for the purpose of administering a state’s educational program(s).

Over the years, specific exemptions to the general prohibition were added to EC 49558, allowing the disclosure of names and eligibility status of students without parental consent under particular circumstances. In 2014, the LCFF was enacted and, with it, was the introduction of the LCAP, which is a tool for LEAs to set goals, plan actions, and leverage LCFF resources to meet those goals in order to improve student outcomes. The LCAP is an important component of the LCFF and describes how the LEA intends to use its funding to meet annual goals for all pupils, as well as goals for targeted populations of pupils (such as pupils participating in the F/RP meal program).

Effective January 1, 2015, EC 49558 was amended to add subdivision (e) to provide that the name and eligiblity status of students participating in the F/RP meal program could be disclosed for purposes related to the LCFF and for assessing accountability of that funding.

Specifically, EC 49558(e) states:

Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a school district, charter school, or county office of education may release the name and eligibility status of a pupil participating in the free or reduced-price meal program as follows:

  1. To the Superintendent for purposes of determining funding allocations under the local control funding formula and for assessing the accountability of that funding.
  2. Upon request, to another school district, charter school, or county office of education that is serving a pupil living in the same household as an enrolled pupil for purposes related to free or reduced-price meal program eligibility and for data used in local control funding formula calculations.
The California Department of Education (CDE) subsequently issued Management Bulletin SNP-12-2015: Updated Guidance on Sharing of School Meal Applications and the Passing of Assembly Bill 1599, to inform LEAs about the change in the law and to answer commonly asked questions concerning the disclosure of school meal applications. A link to access this management bulletin is set forth below.
Clarification and Additional Guidance

Since the issuance of the above-referenced management bulletin, the CDE has received additional inquiries from LEAs asking whether school officials charged with administering the F/RP meal program may share the name and eligibility status of children enrolled in the school meal program with other school officials within the same LEA when the sharing is not for purposes of administering the F/RP meal program, but rather for purposes of  administering the LCFF and/or for assessing accountability related to LCFF funding. This could include sharing the names and eligibility status of students in order to provide educational services and support to the F/RP meal program population on a targeted basis, rather than on a schoolwide or districtwide basis, in accordance with an LEA’s LCAP. The CDE interprets the amendment to allow school officials within the same LEA to obtain the name and eligibility status of students participating in the F/RP meal program when necessary for implementing the requirements of the LCFF and/or assessing accountability of that funding as provided for in an LEA’s LCAP.

Of course, students eligible for the F/RP meal program should never be overtly identified to other students or to members of the public. In addition, only staff with legitimate educational or nutrition program-related interest in the information should have access to individual meal eligibility information.Moreover, the confidentiality requirements set forth in EC 49558(f) state:

Information released pursuant to subdivision (c), (d), or (e) shall adhere to all of the following requirements:

  1. Individual indicators of participation in a free or reduced-price meal program shall not be maintained in the permanent record of any pupil, unless otherwise authorized by law.
  2. The public release of information regarding individual pupil participation in a free or reduced-price meal program is not permitted.
  3. All other confidentiality requirements imposed by law or regulation are met.

Please note that individual student meal eligibility information that is allowed to be shared must be for an express purpose connected with implementing the LCFF and/or to meet the goals set forth in the LEA’s LCAP and the same information cannot be shared for any other reason beyond its intended use. The CDE also recommends that district employees who are given access to this information be authorized by the governing board of the school district prior to receiving it.

Additional Resources

The resources below are helpful tools for LEAs to become familiar with when addressing confidentiality issues and is on the CDE School Nutrition Program (SNP) Management Bulletin Web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/sn/mb.asp.

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact your county’s SNP Specialist. A list of SNP Specialists is available in the Download Forms section of the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System, Form ID Caseload. You can also contact Gina Stahlecker, SNP Specialist, by phone at 916-445-1640 or by e-mail at gstahlecker@cde.ca.gov.

If you have any LCFF fiscal questions, please contact the LCFF staff by e-mail at PASE@cde.ca.gov. If you have any LCFF program questions, please contact LCFF staff by e-mail at LCFF@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Monday, April 13, 2020
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