A federal judge has reversed an order that would have allowed the release of 10 million student records to lawyers tied to a special education lawsuit in California, making the decision after parent protests.
Instead, the student files will remain under the control of the California education department, which will be required to run searches of the database to meet the needs of the plaintiffs. The case, Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and California Concerned Parents v. California Department of Education, dates back to 2012 and claims that the state is not meeting its federal obligations to serve students with disabilities.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller had originally ruled that a copy of the student data could be made available to the plaintiffs in order to meet their lawful needs for discovery in the case. The state database includes names, addresses, disciplinary records, and in some cases, Social Security numbers.
Parents were allowed to submit forms requesting that their children’s data be withheld. In reversing her original decision, Mueller said that “given the number of objections received, and the objections that will continue to be received, the court has not and cannot realistically review the objections individually. The court construes the objections in bulk as objecting strongly to public disclosure of personal identifying information contained in the [education department’s] educational records.”
A representative of one plaintiff said she supported the judge’s revised stance.
Whatever approach the plaintiffs can use to “get access to current, valid, and accurate data is great,” Christine English, the vice president of California Concerned Parents, told the San Jose Mercury News.
A version of this article appeared in the March 16, 2016 edition of Education Week as In Turnaround, Judge Rules No Student Records to Be Released