California State Assemblymembers Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Mike Gatto (D-Burbank) today proposed new student privacy protections to ensure that students’ personal information like Social Security Numbers are appropriately protected at the school district level. The legislation is prompted by a recent decision to turn over the records of 10 million California public school students to a private organization.
A recent ruling in Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et al. v. California Department of Education compelled the school system to provide sensitive information – including social security numbers, mental health and medical information – for students dating back to 2008 to a parents group in Santa Clara County. Assembly Bill 2097 would prohibit school districts from gathering social security numbers and other sensitive unnecessary information for students except where required by federal law.
“As a mom, I’ve seen my kids’ schools over the years request social security numbers, medical information, and other private information that they don’t need or have a right to,” Gonzalez said. “Rather than expecting parents to have the knowledge and capacity to fight to protect their child’s privacy, we should get schools out of the business of asking in the first place.”
“Our school districts are collecting personal information about our children that is neither legally required nor necessary for their education,” Melendez said. “With identity theft at an all-time high, our focus should be on protecting our students, not exposing their personal information unnecessarily”
“During an era of omnipresent intrusion in our lives and increasingly frequent data breaches, all levels of government should be taking steps to safeguard our sensitive, personal information—especially where it involves our children,” Gatto said.
The authors of AB 2097 today also called on California school districts to proactively provide the existing objection form provided by the California Department of Education to parents, and encourage parents to take advantage of the opportunity to lodge their objection to this exposure of personal and private information about their children across the state.