Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Thoughts on the California Department of Education Data Release

cropped-msnn_small-logo2.jpg*Time Sensitive- Former and Current California Students – Decide and Act before April 1 2016*

This is for those of you that have had any general and/or special education students in a California public school, infant to age of 22, since January 1, 2008 – their school records and data are going to be released, regardless of where you live now in the world.

Wait, what? Now what is happening in the California school systems? 

In 2012, the California Department of Education (CDE) was sued by two non-profit organizations called California Concerned Parents Association and Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association. (Source: http://californiaconcernedparents.org/?page_id=47)

They sued in an effort to show that the California Department of Education “violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), among other related laws, by failing to monitor, investigate, provide services to, and enforce the rights of children with disabilities consistent with its obligations under the law.”As such, they are subpoenaing our children’s educational records to help gather proof. (Source: https://www.privacyrights.org/California-student-records-disclosed)

The exact verbiage of the notice is:

“This notice may apply to you if you are: the parent or guardian of a child (including an infant) with disabilities; the parent or guardian of a student who is attending or attended a California school at any time since January 1, 2008; or a person over the age of eighteen who is attending or attended a California school at any time since January 1, 2008.” (Source: http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/di/ws/documents/order2016jan26.pdf)

If you have no concerns about your children’s data being released, do nothing.

If you do have concerns, there are two ways to opt out:

  • Fill out THIS FORM for each child and send via standard mail to:
    United States District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller
    c/o Clerk of the Court Robert T. Matsui
    United States Courthouse 501 I Street, Room 4-200
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Attn: Document Filed Under Seal
  • OR, “a parent, guardian, or former student can write a confidential letter to the judge, including the name of the student on whose behalf the letter is written, the author’s name and relationship to the student, the student’s date of birth, county, school district, and school, and, if desired, the basis of your objection.” (Source: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr16/yr16rel15.asp)

**

As I sit here, I do not know if I will or will not respond, or by which of the two methods that have been offered. I do notice that the form asks for the school district the student is/ was in. Due to the military aspect and security concerns for our families, perhaps the confidential letter to the judge is the better route.

News agencies have been more forthcoming on broadcasting the information than the school districts themselves. Many schools have the ability to notify families via phone and email… and they do on many occasions for events such as suspicious persons, packages, and threats made directly to students and staff on campus or citizens in the neighborhood. Yet, I haven’t seen as much being said by the school districts until up to a week after the news agencies had notified the public.

The notifications were supposed to begin on February 1, 2016. There are some that state that the districts are not required to provide the notice. Some school districts are or have sent notifications, many have stated plainly in their notices that they are not a party of, or involved in the lawsuit.

There are even some who believe that the CDE and school districts requesting people opt-out because Personally Identifiable Information (PII) will be released is a scare tactic to hide or reduce the number of records/ information that is released. As a military community, we are always concerned with the protection of PII for our service members, selves, and children.

The organizations requesting the information indicate that they are not interested in the PII information, and it will be stripped out appropriately before final review.

So why do they need our children’s data anyway?

It is a statistical issue. School districts and Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) report data to the CDE, this data is then reported to the Federal Government. This information is kept in databases; millions of students, means large databases. The more data received, the more accurate the information, and the better the statistical analysis will be. This will enable the CCP and others to find if the violations are systemic or just a few isolated cases.

**

California Concerned Parents and Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, are requesting data and school records for any general education or special education “student…attending…a California school at any time since January 1, 2008; or a person over the age of eighteen who…attended a California school at any time since January 1, 2008.”

I pause right there, as a parent of three individuals who are now 7, 18, and 21…

January 1, 2008 they were not-even-thought-about, 10, and 13. Combined, they have been in at least 10 different California school districts, not including all of the schools from Infant/ Toddler Special Education Early Childhood (SEEC) to college. I have had many concerns, and still do, with regards to schools complying with the Individual Education Plan (IEP), based on Free Access to Public Education (FAPE), Wright’s Law, I.D.E.A., Americans with Disabilities Act, and many more. Yes, let’s add to the alphabet soup that we already deal with in the military!

California Concerned Parents states “… parents have had difficulty receiving an appropriate assessment of their child or securing appropriate educational services, especially if those services have involved high costs. Many parents have had trouble getting appropriate behavioral support plans.”

One of my children had an IEP that stated services that were no different than what typical peers received on the campus. Services and modifications were stripped; the student went from 100% Special Day Class (SDC) in elementary school to 100% Mainstream in middle school. The school district removed all of the SDC’s for that specific IEP disability category. There was no clear transition delineation.

**

So, I am still undecided on what I will do for my 7 year old or what I will counsel my 18 and 21 year olds to do, since they have to submit their own opt-out, if that is what they end up deciding to do. As a military family, with multiple moves, if I were to opt-out, I’d compose the confidential letter to the judge rather than using the form. This is so I can list all of the multiple school districts and clearly state affiliation with an active duty service member.

It is important that we make decisions based upon all the facts we can get (both sides). It is very difficult when there is more information being provided from one side of the two.

There are many Facebook posts talking about this very subject. Keep informed.

I want to also point out that the term “under seal” means information is protected from public scrutiny.

-K. Crawford

K. Crawford has one young daughter and two adult sons. She has been a military spouse since 2008. She has been advocating through the IEP process and with medical providers for her close family members for over fifteen years. While taking care of family medical needs, she kept herself busy by continuing her education. To date, she has earned an Associates of Arts, Business, an Undergraduate Certificate, Human Resources, and is due to earn a Bachelors of Science, Accounting. She is looking forward to returning to the work force. That which brings her the most pleasure in life is spending time with her friends. She also enjoys outdoor activities, leisure drives, and all kinds of food.

Comments, discussion and insight always welcome!

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