Ability To Opt Out Uncertain In Lawsuit Requiring Student Data Release

by Theresa Harrington, EdSource

Navy man greets student in wheelchair

U.S. Navy/public domain

judge’s order requiring the California Department of Education to release personal data for 10 million students as a result of a lawsuit over special education rights does not state whether parents’ objections will automatically trigger the removal of their children’s records from disclosure.

Many parents throughout the state want to opt their children out of the data release, which includes records dating back to 2008. Information to be released could include Social Security numbers, addresses, demographics, behavior and discipline information, special education records and mental health or medical details.

Although Judge Kimberly Mueller is accepting letters or objection forms from parents, or former students who are 18 or over, through April 1, her order does not indicate whether she will block the release of data based on them. However, it does clearly state that failure to submit an objection “will be deemed a waiver of your right to object to the disclosure of your or your child’s protected personal information and records.”

“The way we’re interpreting it is: ‘Get your paperwork in now and the court is going to decide whether that is an opt-out or not,” said Robert Oakes, spokesman for the California Department of Education. “So, we strongly encourage everyone to get their paperwork in because the judge will make that determination.”

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