Ability to opt out uncertain in lawsuit requiring student data release
A judge’s order requiring the California Department of Education to release personal data for 10 million students as a result of a lawsuit over special education rights does not state whether parent objections will automatically trigger the removal of their children’s records from disclosure.
Many parents throughout the state want to opt their children out of the data release, which includes records dating back to 2008. Information to be released could include Social Security numbers, addresses, demographics, behavior and discipline information, special education records, and mental health or medical details.
Although Judge Kimberly Mueller is accepting letters or objection forms from parents, or former students who are 18 or over, through April 1, her order does not indicate whether she will block the release of data based on them. However, it does clearly state that failure to submit an objection “will be deemed a waiver of your right to object to the disclosure of your or your child’s protected personal information and records.”
“The way we’re interpreting it is: ‘Get your paperwork in now and the court is going to decide whether that is an opt-out or not,” said Robert Oakes, spokesman for the California Department of Education. “So, we strongly encourage everyone to get their paperwork in because the judge will make that determination.”
The order came as a result of a 2011 lawsuit by the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association against the California Department of Education alleging that the state is failing to ensure that students are getting the special education services they are legally entitled to receive. The California Department of Education denies the allegations.
The lawsuit was joined in 2012 by the California Concerned Parents Association, which includes parents from 75 percent of the districts in the state, said Christine English, vice president of the group.
“We’re doing a statistical analysis of information that is reported to the California Department of Education,” she said. “We’re not getting any information from local school districts, nor do we want it.”
The state is encouraging districts to inform parents of the lawsuit and to post the objection form on their websites. The state PTA is also alerting its members to the judge’s order, which it characterizes as “an overexposure of children’s information.”
Sherry Skelly Griffith, executive director of the state PTA, said she believes there must be another way to determine whether the needs of students are being Ability to opt out uncertain in lawsuit requiring student data release | EdSource: