(Updated) Urgent for California Parents: Detailed student SSNs, medical information to be released by a court

Update for March 3, 2016:

This week a judge has ordered that the approximately 10 million records of California students held by the California Department of Education will not be turned entirely over to a group of community nonprofits in the Morgan Hill case. Instead, the judge ordered that several smaller databases will be turned over to the nonprofits, but that the largest and most significant database, CALPADS, will not. The nonprofits and their representatives will instead need to access the CALPADS database in situ within the California Department of Education secure environment, and will need to run queries against the database only.

The decision to run queries against the database versus handing over the entire CALPADS database with its rich data about millions of students is a significant improvement over the judge’s initial order. The CALPADS database contains an extraordinary dataset, everything from medical information to disciplinary information to economic status to ethnicity and immigration status to detailed addressing and other demographic information. In the ruling, the judge also noted the deep flaws with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that allowed for unconsented data release via court orders and in this case created a profound backlash from parents, the media, and privacy experts. The judge mentioned the copious public response to the court from parents, citing an abundance of petitions for the court to remove their children’s records from the data release. Those petitions, said the judge, will not be filed, but will be securely stored.

WPF is still analyzing the ruling, as well as the contents of the databases that will be turned over in full.

The February 29 ruling is here: Morgan Hill order after FERPA status conference


Original post:

All parents with children in California schools K-12 need to urgently opt out of having their child’s educational and detailed medical records handed over to a third party, in this case, a community non-profit organization and their attorneys. The non-profit sued for access to childrens’ educational records across the state, and it is over the objection of the California Department of Education that the records are being released.  The records will include children’s Social Security Numbers as well as detailed mental and health information, along with detailed educational information and home addresses.

This is an unprecedented information release. WPF strongly objects to the release of childrens’ health information and SSNs as part of this release, and finds the release of medical information and SSNs as well as home addresses to be a significant risk for identity fraud as well as data breach. Parents have the ability to fill in a form and mail it to the court to ask that their children’s records not be included in the data release. The deadline for this is April 1, 2016. WPF urges California parents to take this step to remove their children’s data from this risky information release.

Here are the key details:

  1. Parents must take immediate steps to petition the court to opt their children out of the disclosure. The form must be filled in and mailed by April 1, 2016.
  2. The form is here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/ws/documents/form2016jan26.pdf
  3. If parents do not send the opt out, a community non profit will have all of the information in a database, per specific court instructions about who sees the data, how it will be accessed, etc. Regrettably, history has shown us that databases this large and detailed are rich targets for sophisticated hackers and identity thieves, and WPF urges California parents to opt their children out of this intrusive information disclosure. There was and is no need for student medical information — including mental health information — to be part of this release.

More about the opt out:

The opt out form is straightforward. Just print it out and fill in your information. Please note that sending this form is actually petitioning the court for an opt out. It is not guaranteed.

Mail the opt out form via regular postal mail to the court. Here is the address:
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

If you need help accessing or filling out the opt-out form, please contact WPF.

More about the lawsuit:

The name of the lawsuit that is mandating this unprecedented disclosure of student educational and health information is Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et al. v. California Department of Education, USDC-Eastern District of California, Case No. 2:11-cv-03471-KJM-AC. The San Jose Mercury News has an excellent background write up of the details of the case.


Related Information:

Student Privacy 101 Series