By Charly SHELTON
The California Dept. of Education will be releasing student identity information to the nonprofit parent group The Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association.
After winning a suit filed against the CDE for access to the information, The Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association will be given access to the master database of all student information on students who have attended California schools any time since Jan. 1, 2008. This information includes but is not limited to social security numbers, addresses, behavior history, expulsions/suspensions, mental health and medical information.
“From a superintendent’s point of view,” said Dr. Marc Winger, co-interim superintendent of Glendale Unified School District, “I thought it was a really curious thing for the judge to do. The judge knows that this is hypersensitive, personal identification. I hope the judge knows that there are federal laws that protect students’ personal information and yet she said okay.”
The Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association sued the CDE for access to the master list of all student information in order to obtain data relevant to its case regarding special education services. Parents of special ed students, Winger said, felt that the needs of their children were not being met and all of the course information, discipline information, behavior history and other associated data could be found in the CDE master list file. The issue is not that The Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association is after the information of any unrelated students, but that giving access to this list to a third-party group poses a security leak risk.
Winger said that without the information, the plaintiffs can’t make their case.
“They put confidentiality jackets around the information – I think I’ve read somewhere that maybe 10 people will have access to this information – and I’m comfortable with that as long as it holds,” he said. “The scary part is will it or won’t it really be maintained. Now, it would be contempt of court to release [any of that information] but still – that’s a lot of information.”
Parents of students under the CDE, including Glendale Unified School District, who are concerned about the matter have been provided by the CDE with an opt out form that can be filled out and submitted via postal mail as an official objection to the disclosure of student information and records. The form can be found at www.CDE.ca.gov/RE/DI/WS/documents/form2016Jan26.pdf.
“It’s a matter of conscience. If parents are worried, it’s an objection to the process and a request to maintain confidentiality,” Winger said. “If parents feel that this is really an important issue, either to make the point or to truly protect their kid’s information, they should send it in.”