California students' social security numbers to be released to non-profit group

- Here’s a story you may not have heard until now. But, if you are a parent, it is one you will want to know about.

Personal information, including social security numbers, of millions of current and former California school children will soon be released to a non-profit group representing special needs kids. After a five-year court battle, a federal judge earlier this month ruled that the state Department of Education must hand over the records of all California students dating back to 2008 to California Concerned Parents Association (CCPA). The data will include names, social security numbers, behavioral reports, medical reports, and disciplinary records.

CCPA sued the state, saying it needed the information “to ensure that the CADOE was being compliant with federal and state special education laws… providing the free services that children with disabilities are entitled to.” Christine English, vice president of the group, says parents shouldn’t be concerned that the records are being turned over. English says the “court put into place a special master who is a data expert who will have access to that information”, but it will be held under strict confidence by another judge with oversight of the special master. CCPA says its law firm will be given the names and social security numbers, but will send the group itself a redacted version minus that identifying information.

That doesn’t ease concerns for cyber security experts. Erica Robi of Elluma Discovery questions how the data is being handled. “The (personal) information should be removed, redacted, before it gets turned over” to the law firm, says Robi, who doesn’t believe the state should be forced to turn it over to ensure it has been compliant with special education laws. Privacy experts says a data breach could put a child’s information at risk.

So, what do you do if you don’t want your child’s personal information handed over? You must let the court know that you object by April 1st.  You must fill out a form and mail it to the federal judge in the case. Again, that written objection has to be postmarked no later than April 1st.

You can get more information about objecting to your child’s information being sent at the California Department of Education’s website:
http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/ws/documents/form2016jan26.pdf
http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/ws/morganhillcase.asp

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