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PRESS RELEASE

April 30, 2004

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Horne Laud Legislature for Protecting Teachers' Privacy
Amendment by Representative Detert to a measure by Senator Peaden creates exemption to disclosure of Social Security numbers for public employees

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush and Education Commissioner Jim Horne today lauded the Florida Legislature for passing a measure to protect the privacy of teachers and public employees. The measure addressed concern over provisions in public records statutes that required the Department of Education to release the Social Security numbers of teachers to a media organization.

"I applaud the Legislature for finding a solution that strengthens Florida's public records laws," said Governor Bush. "I look forward to signing this legislation, which protects the privacy of public employees without wreaking havoc on companies that must rely on Social Security numbers to protect consumers."

An amendment by Representative Nancy Detert (R - Sarasota) to Senate Bill 348 by Senator Durell Peaden (R - Crestview), creates an exemption in Florida public records laws that addresses the concerns raised by teachers in recent weeks. The amendment requires that Social Security numbers of public employees be held confidential upon request and limits their release to commercial entities to the last four digits of the Social Security number.

"I commend Representative Detert, Senator Peaden, and Senator Lee for addressing and taking up this important issue," said Horne. "I appreciate their efforts to protect the privacy of Florida's hard-working teachers."

The Department of Education will work with school districts to facilitate teachers' request to keep their Social Security numbers private. Senate Bill 348, which creates an exemption from public-records requirements for certain officials and provides for confidentiality of personal identifying information contained in records, passed this afternoon. It passed unanimously in both the House of Representatives and the Florida Senate.