The personal data of more than 10 million California students has been released by the federal court due to a lawsuit ruling. In a case filed in 2011, the students’ information was requested from the California Department of Education to determine if the state was fulfilling its federal requirements for disable students.
In late January, Judge Kimberly Mueller directed the California state officials to discharge the information. This includes thousands of student records, such as test scores, grades, education plans for disabled students and sensitive personal information like addresses, health records and social security numbers.
Even though the data is only allowed to be view by the plaintiffs in the case and has been directed to be destroyed or returned at the end of the lawsuit, parents are unwary of this student information being shared. This is influencing some to file objections to exclude their student’s records.
With the new security concerns of the digital age, parents have rightfully become more protective over their children’s personal records. In 1971, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was created to protect student information, but it still allows the release of student data if mandated by the court. It also needs updating since document storage is much different today than file cabinets. However, 35 states have addressed this by passing bills to protect student’s privacy.
“Some of the things they are asking for are very personal and can be very detrimental in the wrong hands,” said Justine Fischer, president of the California State Parent Teacher Association.
Parents are frustrated that they are being asked by schools to provide extensive personal information on their children. “As a mom, I’ve seen my kids’ schools over the years request Social Security numbers, medical information and other private information they don’t need or have a right to,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, in a statement.
Parents who share Gonzalez’ concerns and don’t want their student’s information to be released to the court can file an objection by April 1st. But, it’s unclear if these filings will lead to their information being withheld.
Keric Ashley, a deputy superintendent with the California Department of Education, claims that only a limited number of officials have access to the student data. But with the influx of cyber hacks happening all over the world, being concerned for their children’s security is a reasonable one. The only real way that sensitive information, like social security numbers, doesn’t get stolen is by not having the that kind of information recorded.
Editor’s note: This is a foolish move by the State of California. This data WILL get stolen, putting their children at risk.