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PRESS RELEASE

May 25, 2004

Alia Faraj
(850) 488-5394

Frances Marine or
MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Governor Jeb Bush Signs Legislation Protecting State Employees' Privacy
Measure creates exemption to disclosure of social security numbers for teachers and other public employees

TALLAHASSEE — Governor Jeb Bush today signed into law legislation to protect the privacy of teachers and public employees. The measure addressed concern over provisions in public records statutes that forced the Department of Education to release the social security numbers of teachers to a media organization.

"This legislation strengthens Florida's public records laws," said Governor Bush. "It protects the privacy of public employees without wreaking havoc on companies that must rely on social security numbers to protect consumers."

Senate Bill 348 creates an exemption in Florida public records for certain officials and provides for confidentiality of personal identifying information contained in records. It 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, except in certain specific instances. The law addresses the concerns raised by teachers in recent months, and the Department of Education will work with school districts to facilitate teachers' request to keep their social security numbers private.

"I appreciate the efforts of the Governor and the Legislature — particularly Senator Peaden and Representative Detert — to protect the privacy of Florida's hard-working teachers," said Education Commissioner Horne.