Court should protect privacy of California’s students

By Sherry Griffith, Vernon M. Billy and Wesley Smith

“When parents entrust a child to public schools, the system accepts a special responsibility to protect and enrich the student. That responsibility includes safeguarding personal information – a right guaranteed by state and federal law.

Yet, a recent federal court order threatens student privacy rights by forcing the California Department of Education to release as many as 10 million student records containing names, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers, as well as sensitive information on behavior, academic performance and health.

If you attended a California public school since 2008, have a child who did, or have a student currently in California schools, your private records could be shared with attorneys suing the Department of Education over whether school districts are providing appropriate special education services….

Whenever student data is involved, the strongest precautions must be taken to ensure that privacy is respected and protected. Let’s find a sensible way to balance the need for information with respect for a student’s right to privacy.”

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Sherry Griffith is executive director of the California State PTA and can be contacted at Vernon M. Billy is CEO and executive director of the California School Boards Association and can be contacted at Wesley Smith is executive director of the Association of California School Administrators and can be contacted at