Student social security numbers breached

After the disclosure of student Social Security numbers by the California Board of Education, the privacy of students has been compromised. The order stems from a now five-year-old legal battle between the Morgan Hill group and the California State Department of Education over whether or not disabled students receive the free and appropriate public education mandated under federal law. Morgan Hill was granted the right to access private information such as Social Security numbers, names, addresses and mental and physical assessments of students who have attended public school in California since Jan. 1, 2008. With the state’s data the group will be able to check, for instance, if students identified with behavioral issues had a needed behavioral management plan in place. However, although the cause is a noble one with many unbothered by the court’s ruling, there was still a lack of  communication to parents and students.

The most discomforting fact, however, is that the opportunity to revoke Morgan Hill’s rights to private information was not widely publicized. In order to nullify the institution’s rights to access private information, which was ruled on Feb. 1 2016, students would have to fill out a form by April 1. Aside from one email sent by my school district, there was no other urgent notification sent out to students and parents. This lack of communication may have been especially detrimental to students that didn’t have access to or didn’t engage on social media sites.

In addition to the lack of transparency, there was an insufficient amount of time allotted to spread the crucial information. Students should reserve the right to revoke Morgan Hill’s intrusion of private information at any time. Yet the deadline to rescind that right ended in the beginning of April. The whole court process and decision was locked behind closed doors, disrespecting the privacy of students. Personal information was freely stolen from students but information about this occurrence was kept secretive.

The spread of information should not be the initiative of students themselves but rather the initiative of those who made the unwarranted decision. That responsibility, at least, should have been taken by the Supreme Court or Morgan Hill. There was a release of student Social Security numbers, without the obvious consent of the individual.

Although there is a greater cause behind this release of information, private information should not be this easily forfeited due to a lack of communication. A proper disclosure of information is the least that could have been done. A topic concerning personal information should be left to the will of their subjects–the students themselves.

By Lisa Shen, Opinion editor

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