Students to Rally Statehouse in Support of Privacy

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 3, 2009 12:00 am

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High School students and educators from across the state will be gathering in Augusta at 9:00am on Monday, April 6th to demand protection for their privacy. The group, which includes students, teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents, will be addressing the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs in support of LD 725 – An Act to Protect Student Privacy while Complying with Federal Law.

“Mainers care passionately about their constitutional right to privacy,” said Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, “we should not be surprised that Maine students are equally passionate about how, and why their personal data is being collected.”

Current Maine Department of Education policy mandates that schools report all names of students involved in any of 39 incidences of prohibited behavior. The DOE claims that the policy is necessary to meet federal reporting requirements; however, the policy exceeds these requirements by collecting, and storing, personal student data.

LD 725, sponsored by Senator Alfond of Portland, would prevent state officials from gathering the unnecessary personal records of students while keeping Maine in compliance with federal laws.

“Our administration adamantly opposes requiring school districts to release personally identifiable information that may jeopardize student privacy,” said Patricia Hopkins, superintendent of schools for MSAD 28 and Five Town CSD.

In 2008, Hopkins contacted the MCLU regarding the DOE reporting policies; primary among her concerns was that if data is not well protected, students may be discriminated against, or harmed in the future because of mistakes made in their youth.

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