Education advocates demand privacy for waiver candidates
The state Education Department identified students asking for graduation waivers by numbers and school districts instead of names after a privacy dust up earlier in June.
At its June 5 meeting, the Board of Education named students who requested waivers from state-mandated end-of-instruction exams. After the meeting, the appeal information was posted on the Oklahoma agency website, including some student transcriptions, medical information and personal information.
The result was an outcry from educators, legislators and advocates. As of Thursday afternoon, the information was still on the department website, though details had been limited to the students' initials. However, the students' full names were available on the meeting agenda.
Melissa Abdo, president of the Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee, addressed the board about the issue at its meeting Thursday. She said all student information should be taken off the state website.
"Frankly, it was unimaginable to see that the confidential records were placed on the state department website," Abdo said.
Abdo pointed out that although the forms have changed, students and parents must still sign a privacy release form to request a graduation requirement waiver.
"Why is this necessary?" she said. "Why must you agree to have the child's information online to access an appeals process that is granted to you by law?"
Education Department spokesman Damon Gardenhire said the agency and the Board of Education have to balance the public's right to know with student privacy.