Federal judge allows private data release on 10 million CA students
February 22, 2016
TRUCKEE, Calif. — A lawsuit against the California Department of Education is impacting the privatization of student data among all school districts across the state, including the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
The litigation is with two nonprofit associations composed of parents and guardians of children with disabilities.
According to the Associated Press, the federal court case was first initiated in 2008 by Morgan Hill, Calif., parent Linda McNulty, through her organization California Concerned Parents, to address what she believed was a failure of the state to monitor school district compliance in providing special education services. The lawsuit gained class-action status in 2012.
"TTUSD is not a party to the litigation and is not required to disclose any student information, nor does it intend to do so," according to a TTUSD news release last week.
Still, while TTUSD is not involved in the suit, CDE last week was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller to release all data it has collected on all K-12 general education and special education students since Jan. 1, 2008.
Examples of private information that may be released includes student's name, Social Security number, behavior and discipline information, records pertaining to health, and mental health and medical information, among others.
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According to the AP, the data, likely to be released this year, will be handed over under seal, monitored by a special magistrate as well as a security expert, and available only to a handful of legal representatives.
Still, it's caused concern among parents across the state considering the unprecedented nature of the data release.
Parents can pull their kids off the disclosure list by filling out an "Objection to Disclosure Form" and mailing it by April 1 to the judge, Kimberly Mueller.
Last week, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urged parents to object.
"We have fought vigorously to protect students' privacy rights and will continue that fight," he said.
CDE has requested that all school districts, including TTUSD, remind parents how to file an objection.
"TTUSD goes to great lengths to protect the personal information of all its families. The district wants to do all it can to keep parents and guardians informed and protected," according to the TTUSD release. "TTUSD would like to reiterate that the release of this information is completely out of TTUSD's control, and out of concern for their student community, they wanted to ensure that families know they have the option to protect their student's private information."
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