Staff Bios

Kala Shah Surprenant​

Kala Shah Surprenant is the acting Director of the Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) at the U.S. Department of Education (Department). Prior to SPPO, Kala served the Department for 20 years consecutively as general attorney, team lead, and senior counsel in the Department’s Office of the General Counsel.   Kala has advised the Department on legal and policy issues including privacy, oversight for K-12 and postsecondary education issues, early childhood education, disability rights, and grants administration.  Kala successfully shepherded major regulations packages including privacy protections and improving the delivery of services. She negotiated compliance agreements with states to include then-new data elements for states to use data-based decision making to improve program performance.  

Prior to joining the Department, Kala represented individuals, private corporations and non-profit entities as a civil litigator. Kala was recruited to develop and launched the first three family law clinical programs when the District of Columbia Bar revamped its lawyer referral service to implement its pro bono program for needy families.  Kala was selected for the competitive White House Leadership Development Program and graduated from the Excellence in Government Program sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service.  She taught as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School, published articles, and lectured at national conferences on legal and policy issues. Kala graduated from Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude, and obtained her bachelor’s degree from New York University, Magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  
 

Frank Miller

Frank Miller is with the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO).  SPPO administers the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and the Protections of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA).  Prior to joining SPPO in 2013, he was a program specialist in the Office of Special Education Programs.  Before beginning his federal career in 2011, Frank had several years of State-level experience, including 6 years as Division Chief in the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning where he had fiscal, operations and monitoring, and data management responsibilities for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C and Part B/619 programming; and 9 years in regulatory administration and program compliance with the PA Department of Health.  In addition, Frank had local-level experience as a children and youth caseworker, and program manager for community living arrangements for individuals with disabilities. 

Ross Lemke (Contractor)

Ross Lemke serves as the manager for the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) with over 10 years of experience providing TA around education data.   He helps state and local education agencies, schools, districts and postsecondary institutions develop an understanding of FERPA, privacy and data security.  He provides timely support through the PTAC helpdesk, on-site technical assistance visits and development of technical guidance documents and live webinars.  Prior to his work with PTAC Ross has provided TA around numerous U.S. Department of Education data collections including EDFacts, Civil Rights Data Collection and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Mike Tassey (Contractor)

Mike Tassey serves as the Data Security Advisor for the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) with over 15 years of information security experience. He helps state and local education agencies, schools, districts and postsecondary institutions develop strong FERPA compliant information security programs and decrease the risk to education data, including student records, through on-site technical assistance visits, risk assessments, development of technical guidance documents and live webinars. Before joining PTAC, Mike served in a variety of senior technical roles for federal agencies, the military and intelligence communities, and as a consultant to major financial and critical infrastructure organizations.

Eric Gray (Contractor)

Eric Gray is a subject matter expert for the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) with five years of experience working in the Student Privacy space.   He helps state and local education agencies, schools, districts and postsecondary institutions develop an understanding of FERPA, privacy and data security.  He provides timely support through the PTAC helpdesk, on-site technical assistance visits and review of technical documents submitted by stakeholders and conducting webinars.  He has also been developing approaches for new training materials for PTAC aimed at different stakeholder groups.   Prior to working with PTAC, Eric provided technical support for states, districts and schools during the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection and previously supported local school districts with their data collections at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Sean Cottrell (Contractor)

Sean Cottrell is a federal student privacy law expert for the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) with over 10 years of experience working in the information security and identity services industry.  He provides timely support through the PTAC helpdesk, on-site technical assistance visits, development of technical guidance documents, review of technical documents submitted by stakeholders and conducts webinars and speaks at conferences.  Sean joins PTAC from the state of Wisconsin, where he served as the Data Governance Coordinator and Privacy Officer for the Department of Public Instruction.