Education, Privacy, Disability Rights, and Civil Rights Groups Send Letter to Florida Governor About Discriminatory Student Database

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Future of Privacy Forum and 32 other education, disability rights, privacy, and civil rights organizations sent a letter to Florida Governor DeSantis, urging him to postpone the implementation of Florida’s proposed school safety database. FPF is deeply concerned that the program will be used to label students as threats based on data that has no documented link to violent behavior, such as data on disabilities or those seeking mental health care. The signatories urged Governor DeSantis to immediately halt the state’s construction of this database and, instead, create a commission of parents, students, and experts on education, privacy, security, equity, disability rights, civil rights, and school safety, to identify measures that have been demonstrated to effectively identify and mitigate school safety threats.

Education Week recently detailed the types of information to be collected in Florida’s planned database. The categories discussed included children who have been victims of bullying based on protected statuses such as race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation; children who have been treated for substance abuse or undergone involuntary psychiatric assessments; and children who have been in foster care, among others.

“Through policy, Florida is saying that students who have been bullied and harassed are threats, making it less likely that those students will report bullying and receive the help they need,” said Amelia Vance, Director of the Education Privacy Project at FPF. “It is especially troubling that the database has no retention or deletion requirements – meaning that Florida is creating a literal permanent record that could follow students around their whole life.”

The letter asks the Governor to pause the database’s implementation – due to be launched August 1, 2019 – and create a commission of experts to determine whether a state database would actually help to identify school safety threats and would not pose undue harm to students, and identify the legal, ethical, privacy, and security parameters that should be an integral part of this database. If Governor DeSantis is not willing to do that, signatories requested that he require the state to provide public information about the database’s data governance, enumerate the data that will be included, share how parents can access and, if needed, contest the information and inferences about their child in the database, and provide a public commitment to abide by all federal and state privacy and non-discrimination laws.

Read the letter here.

 

The Future of Privacy Forum is a non-profit organization that serves as a catalyst for privacy leadership and scholarship, advancing principled data practices in support of emerging technologies. Learn more about FPF by visiting www.fpf.org.

Media Contacts:

Tony Baker
[email protected]
310-593-3680

Nat Wood
[email protected]
410-507-7898

Signatories:

  • Access Now
  • ACLU
  • ACLU of Florida
  • The Advocacy Institute
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • American Association of School Librarians
  • Autism Society of Florida
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • The Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus
  • Common Sense Media
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
  • Disability Independence Group, Inc
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Florida Council of Administrators of Special Education
  • Florida League of Women Voters
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • Intercultural Development Research Association
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Florida
  • Mental Health America
  • Mental Health Association in Indian River County, Florida, a proud affiliate of Mental Health America
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities
  • National Center for Youth Law
  • The National Council on Independent Living
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • Public Advocacy for Kids
  • School Social Work Association of America
  • SPLC Action Fund
  • TASH