Privacy Press Release

08.28.00

ACLU Sues School Board over Student Privacy

Student Information Given to Bank in Violation of Federal Law

On Tuesday, August 29, 2000, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation will file suit against the Indian Creek Local School District, a public school system located in Jefferson County, in southeastern Ohio. The suit, which will be brought on behalf of local parent Edward Connors, seeks to challenge the disclosure, to a local bank, of personal information regarding Indian Creek students.
In January 2000, Indian Creek parents received a solicitation from the Wheeling, West Virginia based Advanced Financial Savings Bank, which invited them to establish savings accounts on behalf of their children. The bank obtained the names and addresses of Indian Creek students through the local school district, which neither sought nor obtained parental permission before disclosing that information. Under both state and federal law, a school may not disclose student names, addresses or social security numbers to third parties without giving parents notice of the plan to do so and an opportunity to request that the information be kept private. In certain circumstances, schools must obtain the written permission before disclosing information.
The case is the first of its kind in Ohio. “Student rights, including the right to privacy, are among our foremost concerns at the ACLU,” said Christine Link, Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio, who noted that the Ohio organization has developed a national reputation for its work on behalf of students in the last two years. “This case represents a disturbing trend on the part of the government to treat personal information as a commodity to be sold, rather than as a confidence to be safeguarded,” added ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Raymond Vasvari.
Vasvari will be available to discuss the case immediately after it is filed at noon tomorrow, on the steps of the federal courthouse on Marconi Boulevard, in Columbus.