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Local school districts alert parents about release of student information

A federal district court has ordered the California Department of Education to disclose all California students’ confidential information. A public notice on the case, Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association vs. the CDE was provided by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and has been posted on the websites of the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD), Solana Beach School District and San Dieguito Union High School District’s sites to alert parents and give them an opportunity to object to the release of information.

The DMUSD board discussed the case at its Feb. 24 meeting.

“I appreciate our district doing everything possible to make sure our kids are protected,” said board member Erica Halpern.

In April 2012, the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association filed the suit against the California Department of Education, alleging non-compliance of special education laws by local educational agencies. The suit alleges the CDE failed to monitor, investigate and correct the non-compliance in accordance with the law.

“It did not involve the Del Mar Union School District but it affects us because of the judgment,” Superintendent Holly McClurg said.

According to a release, the CDE has denied these allegations and is actively defending against the litigation. However as part of the discovery process, the state department has been ordered to produce all data collected on general and special students who have attended a California school at any time since Jan. 1, 2008.

McClurg said, for the most part, FERPA protects the privacy of students and requires parental consent before a district discloses personal data but there is an exception when there is a judgment through the court system. FERPA requires the CDE to inform parents and students, and the local districts, such as DMUSD, are doing their part as well.

“I encourage parents to be informed,” McClurg said. “It is important and we are not taking it lightly to make sure our parents know about that judgment.”

Parents can learn more about the case “as well as fill out an objection form at cde.ca.gov/morganhillcase. The form must be mailed before April 1.