Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led Nevada’s Congressional delegation, including Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.-01), Congressman Mark Amodei (R-Nev.-02), Congressman Steven Horsford (D-Nev.-04), and Congresswoman Susie Lee (D-Nev.-03), in a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture asking for guidance on how best to connect low-income families with low-cost programs offered by internet service providers without violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
“With support from Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert and Superintendent Russell Fecht, President of Nevada Association School Superintendents, we are writing to request your assistance to clarify how we might help Internet service providers with low-cost programs connect more families to broadband,” wrote the lawmakers. “To access these low-cost programs, internet providers require confirmation that families are currently on federal aid such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) in order to extend these low-cost offers to families. We have heard from districts that are concerned about confirming which families are utilizing federal aid because they do not want to violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”
The lawmakers continued, “We are asking you to please provide this clarification as soon as possible, so that we can work with internet providers and school districts throughout Nevada to bridge the technology gap that threatens to put some of our most vulnerable students far behind in their studies.”
The full text of the letter can be found here.
In July, Senator Cortez Masto hosted a virtual briefing on the broadband challenges students face and the importance of fast, reliable internet connectivity in Nevada, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.