CA non-profit wins access to all public students records which has some local parents unhappy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Northern California non-profit gained a major victory in federal court getting access to records of all public students in California. California Concerned Parents believes the state isn't doing enough to support special needs students and wants access to student records to prove it.

Not all parents are thrilled about this court order. Some are happy if it means getting help for their special needs child. Most parents, though, have no idea their students information-- everything from social security numbers, grades, and more-- could soon be accessed by this non-profit.

The victory in federal court for the non-profit group called California Concerned Parents means they can now access millions of California student records dating back to January 2008. The non-profit said it has a vested interest in the well-being of special needs students, saying in a statement they believe the California Department of Education isn't providing adequate educational needs and in some cases mistreating special needs students. "This is a bit of an unusual event that, you know, is part of a court order, said Kathryn Catania, Fresno County Office of Education.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson recently informed all public school district leaders about the lawsuit and resulting court order, asking them to, in turn, notify parents. Parents can opt out of having their students' information released, all they need to do is fill out a form on the CDE website by April 1st. "Although there are safeguards and court orders not to disclose that, that's why there is this further avenue that parents can object to their students info being released even in the court order," said Catania.

Parents first getting wind of the court order have been taking to social media, outraged that their child's private information, including social security numbers, home address, and grades are being released to a non-profit. Many are vowing to opt out.

Most parents, though, have no idea about the suit. Jessica Szalai, whose son has Asberger's and ADHD, just learned of the court order Wednesday and said she's supportive of what the non-profit is looking to do. "We don't have enough people asking the question-- what kind of care and what kind of education are our kids receiving? And I just need some sort of help, so if this organization is willing to look at my son's records and potentially help him, I'm more than behind it 100-percent."

Szalai said she's unsatisfied with the way the state treats special needs students, and thinks there's a lack of resources provided to parents.

If you want more information on the court order and a link to the form to opt out of providing your students information the links are below.


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