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Your Actions Made a Difference -
There is still more to be done

Changes have been made to the previous court order due to the overwhelming response from concerned parents.  The objection forms filed by parents made a difference in how U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller assessed the process to release the records for research. It was also suggested that room exists for updating the student privacy laws enacted in 1974 (FERPA) to encompass our digital age.  That law allows for parents to object to - but not prevent - the release of their children’s data. Student data under the current FERPA law can be released for research purposes.  While these changes are a step in the right direction, it’s important to understand this student data can still be released to the third party requesting it.  It is also important to realize that student data can potentially be released for research purposes to third parties that make a similar request in the future.

This is a positive outcome.  However, the privacy issue regarding the release of student data for research purposes without parental consent has not been resolved.

What parents and advocates can do:

  • Contact your local PTA/PTO and unite parents, students and educators into a cohesive voice that that can be a catalyst for change by bringing these issues to the attention of legislators and other decision makers.

  • Contact your local representatives directly at both the state and federal level and communicate the importance of protecting the privacy of student data/information.

Additional information and resources:


U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that 10 million Californian student records will not be released to attorneys in an ongoing special-education suit. Instead, the records will stay exclusively in the hands of the California Department of Education, San Jose Mercury News reports. Attorneys looking to gather evidence from the files will have to go through the agency, the report states. The new motion came after "overwhelming" backlash from privacy advocates and parents alike, and the change of direction was met with acclaim. "It's a really good thing they are just going to query the database," said the World Privacy Forum's Pam Dixon. "This information should never be released."

According to the San Jose Mercury News article by Sharon Noguchi: Link to full article

She (Judge Kimberly Mueller) wrote that she "construes the objections as reinforcing the need for the protection of personal identifying information in the CDE's educational records" and the need to modify her protocol for releasing data. She also suggested that in the future, when courts solicit parent objections, that they arrange a way to submit protests online. She also suggested updating the federal student privacy law, enacted in 1974, in the pre-digital era. The law allows parents to protest but not prevent release of their children's data.

 

Just a reminder that consumer involvement matters! 


California School Students Information Scheduled to be Released

The Identity Theft Resource Center and Privacy Rights Clearing House want to alert all parents of school-aged children throughout California about a pending deadline to object to the potential release of their child’s sensitive personal identifying information. The deadline for parents and adult students to object to the disclosure of personal information and records is April 1, 2016.

OBJECT TO YOUR CHILD'S STUDENT RECORDS FROM BEING RELEASED BY FOLLOWING THESE SIMPLE STEPS:

  • Click on this link and complete the objection form (complete one form per child)

  • Mail this completed form via regular mail to:
    United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller
    c/o Clerk of the Court
    Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse
    501 I Street, Room 4-200
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Attn: Document Filed Under Seal

A court granted the release of documents subject to a protective order, stemming from a lawsuit between the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and the California Department of Education. This would allow for the release of extremely sensitive information stored on the CDE databases and network drives to be released to the parties of the lawsuit, their attorneys and consultants, and the Court.  The ITRC believes that all California parents should be aware of this event and need to decide for themselves if they wish to object to the release of this information.  Some families may feel strongly that providing this information for this purpose is something that they want to allow, while others may feel they do not. 

The protective order specifically states no student’s identifying records will be disclosed to the public. However, the order does not state the manner in which the information will be released, or details regarding how safeguarding of the sensitive information will be carried out. (UPDATE:  This alert has been updated with information regarding the security protocols.  See UPDATE below.)

The plaintiffs allege the California Department of Education has violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), among other related laws, by failing to monitor, investigate, provide services to, and enforce the rights of children with disabilities consistent with its obligations under the law, and have requested access to these records in order to prove their case.  The Defendant denies these allegations.

The ITRC is hopeful that more details regarding how this information will be safeguarded after it has been released will be provided to parents prior to the objection deadline so that parents can make an informed decision regarding this action.

The request is for the personal information of children, including children with disabilities, children who requested an assessment or who were assessed for special education eligibility, and children who are attending, or who have attended, a California school at any time since January 1, 2008. This includes name, Social Security number, home address, behavior and discipline information, special education assessments/evaluations, records pertaining to health, mental health and medical information and other demographic information.

According to the court order, Failure either to submit an Objection Form or letter to the Court by April 1, 2016 will be deemed a waiver of your right to object to the disclosure of your or your child’s protected personal information and records.

UPDATE:  2/11/2016 AT 3:30 p.m.  PST

Court Order detailing the security protocols that are to be put in place to safeguard sensitive student information has been provided to the ITRC. This document is a public record.  This information was not provided on the objection notification.

Parents should review this document carefully when deciding whether or not to object to the sharing of their student/s information. There are seven different databases that are encompassed in the attachment to the court order.  They are listed on pages 7-12 of the PDF file.  The data security process can be found on the last two pages of the attachment to the court order.  It should be noted that the concerns regarding appropriate security protocols, and the consequences of lost or compromised data, are discussed in the document.

Proposed E-Discovery Protocol - Safeguarding the Security of the Produced Data

The Special Master has significant concern about the storage and use of the highly sensitive student data that will be produced by CDE to the Plaintiffs. Loss or compromise of the produced data could result in the notification of literally millions of persons under state and Federal breach notification requirements, at a cost of millions of dollars. Such notification could also affect persons who are now residents in other states, and trigger breach notification laws in those states.

UPDATE:  2/18/2016

The ITRC has been informed that our use of the words “Opt-Out” could be misleading to parents. In this alert, we previously used the terms Objection and Opt-Out interchangeably.  We have changed all references to the "Opt-Out" language to "Object".

The opportunity for parents to object to the release of their child’s information exists however, at this time we do not know if the filing of the objection guarantees the information will not be released.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided in keeping with the public education and awareness portion of the ITRC mission and as such, does not constitute legal opinion or advice. The ITRC is a non-profit organization established to support victims of identity theft in resolving their cases and to broaden public education and awareness in the understanding of identity theft and related issues. You should consult with an attorney regarding your individual rights.


 For more information and the forms required to object:

Court Order - Notice of Disclosure

Objection form 

For more information on child identity theft see:

Fact Sheet 120: Child Identity Theft

Fact Sheet 120B: Indicators of Child Identity Theft for Parents

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