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Betsy DeVos Shifts School Choice, Privacy Offices at Education Department

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team are moving forward with parts of a department-wide reorganization proposal unveiled earlier this year, including elevating the office charged with helping to advocate for the private school community within the federal bureaucracy, and changing the way privacy policy is handled.

The office of nonpublic education, which was previously part of the soon-to-be-defunct office of innovation and improvement, will now report directly to the office of the secretary. DeVos is a longtime advocate for vouchers, tax credit scholarships, and other forms of private school choice.

That move and other reorganization changes were first reported by Politico.

The remainder of the office of innovation and improvement will be moved to the broader office of elementary and secondary education, Education Week reported earlier this year.

DeVos is also planning to move the department's budget office, which she has reportedly sought to eliminate, into a new office of finance and operations. That office's other jobs will include finance, accounting, budgets, contract management, personnel, business data analysis and more.

And she will make changes to the way privacy policy is handled within the department. The department will continue to have a chief privacy officer, who will be housed in the office of the chief information officer. The chief privacy officer will be in charge of privacy legislation, privacy safeguards, and information collection and clearance. Subject matter experts in the family policy compliance office will provide student privacy technical assistance, and investigate Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act violations, said Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the agency.

The agency's chief privacy officer, Kathleen Styles, was reassigned back in April. Angela Arrington, the deputy chief privacy officer, has been filling the role on an interim basis since then.

Other parts of DeVos' reorganization plan could require congressional approval, including moving the office of English-language acquisition into the broader office of elementary and secondary education. That idea has infuriated advocates, who see the office as a key resource for educators trying to improve outcomes for English-language learners.

"The reorganization effort is focused on streamlining our internal processes in an effort to make the department more efficient, coordinated, and responsive for students, educators, parents, and taxpayers," Hill said.

President Donald Trump has been seeking an even broader reorganization that would involve combining the Education Department with the U.S. Department of Labor. So far, Congress has yet to move on that plan.

Photo: Swikar Patel

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