Activists battle to stop CA schools’ release of student data while other organizations seek it

By George Miller OptOut2

We already knew that schools were routinely releasing confidential student data to other agencies and even to private entities. This been going on a long time. Now, the Common Core rules demand it even more, although there are legal opt-out opportunities.

This case brought by the Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association to obtain student data from the San Diego Unified School District seems legal on its face: regulations permit release of data, court orders the release. There are, however, some problems:

  • The data may be distributed far and wide, leaving children’s personal data visible to many people, even hackers/thieves/foreign entities, not all of whom may have the children’s best interest at heart.
  • The law seems to permit release, but privacy considerations can be invoked by parents, which could arguably prevent this. 
  • The problem is that most parents have no idea that their children’s data are being distributed/sold, what the implications may be and even that they have a legal right to stop it.
  • Many school districts are not properly notifying parents of this security opportunity and even if they did, parents may not know how to properly invoke it.
  • Even if parents demand an opt-out to “datamining,” as it is often called, it is questionable whether schools and districts have the tools or the will to ensure that is accomplished.


From an article in

San Diego Unified School District officials are notifying parents that all school districts in the state of California will be following a court order and handing over student records to a nonprofit community organization.

The Concerned Parents Association fought for the data in federal district court and won over the objections of the California Department of Education.

The nonprofit said it needs the information to see if California schools are violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other related laws. The database it will have access to includes all information on children, kindergarten through high school, who are attending or have attended a California school at any time since Jan. 1, 2008.

SDUSD, the state’s second-largest school district, is not a party in the lawsuit.

“Nonetheless, as a part of this lawsuit, CDE has been ordered by the court to release all data it has collected on general and special education students since Jan. 1, 2008,” the district’s statement informs parents.

The database contains students’ names, social security numbers, home addresses, course information, behavior and discipline information, progress reports, mental health and medical information, along with suspensions, expulsions and more.

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We asked Tony Dolz of Thousand Oaks, a known privacy activist and President of Concerned Parents of California, for his thoughts on the case and received this statement from him:

Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association is suing the California Department of Education.  The judge hearing this case has ordered that the California Department of Education (CDE) release all health and certain other personally identifiable data, such as Social Security numbers, on all students in California.  The court order is for data held by the CDE and the CDE collected the data they hold from datamining by the local schools and school districts in large measure to comply with Common Core data mining requirements.

Another group with a similar name, but a diametrically opposed purpose on datamining, has been at the forefront of the California battle to protect parental rights, local control of schools and above all protecting student privacy.   The organization is called the Concerned Parents of California.  The Concerned Parents of California authored the California Privacy Protection Opt Out Form which schools through California have been using since 2012 to legally Opt Out of Common Core datamining of students by the local schools and school district, data that is today at the center of the court order demanding student records from the CDE.

Let it be clear, the Concerned Parents of California is in no way associated with the Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association and their court case.

The California education establishment is making a distinction between the Common Core mandated collection and sharing of student information with education establishement partners in research, book publishing, test makers, computer and software manufacturers and the political ruling class and government bureaucracy on the one hand; and the court-ordered release of the student data to a law firm representing the Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association.

In the eyes of the Concerned Parents of California, no distinction exists and parents are advised to Opt Out of both.

In practical terms, the Common Core-related collection and sharing of student data is far more likely to leak into unintended hands and be misused than the court ordered release of documents related to the Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association vs. the California Department of Education case.

The Common Core-mandated collection and sharing of information, which has been going for years, is far more broad in the number and kinds of people and organizations that will gain access to the personally identifiable data. This is consequently far more likely to put it at risk of hacking and malicious handling by many levels of potential rogue agents.

It is widely known that even the most secretive and well-funded agencies of the United States such as the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of Human Resource Management, not to mention thousands of “top-secret” emails allegedly stored illegally in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server housed in a rented apartment’s bathroom.- can and have fallen into unintended hands.   The data in the custody of schools, school districts and the CDE could just as easily fall into the hands of potential rogue agents working for Microsoft, Common Core book publisher Pearson and Test makers Edulastic and many others.

Hacking of the most advanced technology companies such as Apple Computer, Entertainment giants like Sony Pictures and insurance companies such as Healthnet is further indication that the only secure data are data that we do not surrender, all other data are vulnerable.

Ironically, Concerned Parents of California has sued California school districts for failing in their legal obligation to notify parents that they have the legal right to Opt Out of Common Core related datamining and it is school districts that are now going to great length to advise parents of their legal right to opt out of the health data release by the CDE respondent to the Morgan Hills Concerned Parents Association case.

The Concerned Parents of California caution parents to Opt Out Common Core datamining which can be done by downloading the form from  and that can be filed with the school anytime during the year, but that must be done every school year and, also download the Opt Out form of the health and related student data release by the CDE which has a deadline of April 1, 2016.  The health data Opt Out can be downloaded from   Download and file for these opt outs today.

Tony Dolz
Concerned Parents of California


Per Harold Capenter, a student data opt-out activist

DID YOU KNOW? It is disingenuous for the CA DOE to object to this release of data. Though I agree that the release shouldn’t happen, at least not this broad a sweep of the data, the reporters who have reported on this case DO NOT KNOW or realize that the CDE (CA Dept of Educ) RELEASES YOUR KIDS DATA ALL THE TIME! This is done via “contractual obligations”. Then the contractor receives the data from the CDE and they SELL the data to “data brokers” (not aggregate data, but data at the student level and identifiable) will sell the data. The data release can include Social Security Numbers, Unique Identifiers, address, parents and sibling names, etc. (depending on the request/contract). This can be accomplished via the contractual obligations detailed in the contracts of various vendors which the DOE has contracted for services. YES, I’ve read some of the contracts the CA-DOE has w/ various vendors!


Student data opt-out articles on

New York is taking action on data distribution and other things affected by a new federal law:

New law leaves test opt-out consequences up to the state


George Miller is Publisher of and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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William "Bill" Hicks
William "Bill" Hicks
5 years ago

I worked for LAUSD for 43 years. This is the most problematic issue I have ever seen in California’s DOE.