We can care about data privacy and the resolution against racism and discrimination.
*Post edit: Our post originally said that Director Cook "claimed" birth places and birthdates had been shared. He has pointed out that he stated this information is "typically" shared. We have changed our wording to portray his post more accurately.
In August, Director Ponder pledged he would review the Resolution Against Racism and Discrimination for revisions before its sunset, but he has not provided any justification to revise the resolution or shared which parties are involved in those conversations.
Meanwhile, in the lead up to the last board meeting before the resolution sunset, a social media post from Director Cook has brought another matter to the forefront. Director Cook linked FERPA guidelines (a Federal regulation designating which information could be designated public and held in school directories) and speculated that our children's birthdays and birthplaces were being released. He was mistaken. Had Director Cook reached out to district officials, they could have told him these pieces of information were not included in FHSD directories. Had he reached out to the stakeholders who requested the information (one from our education association and another a former FHSD superintendent), he would have found they were happy to limit the scope of their inquiry, which was done by one of the parties shortly after the request had been made. He also would have known the info was requested in order to remind parents of voter registration.
Should we be concerned? Data privacy should give us all pause. Directory information is widely shared. It's how yearbook companies publish our memories each year and how college scouts find our successful scholars or talented athletes. And the information released is already public in school directories! It's true that currently, parents are not able to op-out selectively by choosing not to allow some pieces of data but not others. But in response to Director Cook's post, the district sent an email with a correct list of the data that was shared and started the process to change parent options. They also reached out to the requestor and asked to delay their request to allow parents time to opt out. Director Cook later edited his post. So... problem (almost) solved, right?
But this is the problem with partisan politics in education. Director Cook's reactionary and inaccurate post spread misinformation and chaos. A different approach would have offered solutions, but this is a pattern. While political strategists whip reasonable parent concerns into manufacture fears, basic school function issues are overlooked.
Despite campaigning on promises of transparency and a focus on academics, our board majority has blocked an important curriculum update to math curriculum for elementary students. They also targeted the Resolution Against Racism and Discrimination from 2020 by creating a policy to sunset non-binding resolutions from their predecessors, ignoring a host of patron communication asking that it remain. This pattern of rumors and distrust was behind false claims that teachers were neglecting the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms and the suggestions that educators are manipulating students into changing their gender identity or sexuality. Now, Director Cook has offered more PIN forms alleging teacher misconduct and proposed more new policy.
If you are concerned about data privacy, we hear you. We welcome needed changes to this process. But also... beware of politicians who don't want parents to receive voter registration info from respected community members. However you balance your concerns about data privacy with the need for your child to participate in their school community and higher education, don't forget to participate in the democratic process.
p.s. If you haven't sent your email saying no thank you to revisions, do it quick!