10 Million Personal Student Records Ensnared in California Lawsuit

DATA DUMP: Adults in California are waging a bitter lawsuit. There’s no ruling yet, but one group may have already lost: students. The San Jose Mercury News reports that personal information, including test scores, behavior, health records, addresses and social security numbers of students who have attended a California public school since 2008—about 10 million in all—will be handed over to attorneys.

The reason? Two parent groups—the Concerned Parents Association and Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association—alleged in 2012 that the state department of education was not providing adequate services for special-ed students. To prove this claim, attorneys are asking to see students’ school records. The state department had been pushing back, until a district judge ruled that it must provide the requested information.

The decision has sparked outrage and a blame game. The plaintiffs contend that they never asked for personally identifiable information and “offered to receive the information with ‘pseudo’ names.” The state department says it is only complying with the court’s order.

Fewer than 10 attorneys will see the data, which will be delivered electronically; there will also be a “court-ordered special master in electronic discovery” overseeing the process.

“None of this information may be use outside the context of this lawsuit; no student’s identifying records will be disclosed to the public,” wrote Tom Torlakson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction. That assurance may not be enough, but parents have until April 1 to fill out and send this form (yes, via snail mail) to keep their children’s record from being disclosed

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