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Expert: ISBA’s parental tracking list presents ‘grave privacy concerns’

Expert: ISBA’s parental tracking list presents ‘grave privacy concerns’

Dustin Hurst
November 3, 2015
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November 3, 2015

The Idaho School Boards Association’s plan to track parents who complain when schools violate parental rights is sobering, or says one education expert.

Scott Woodruff, senior counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Monday the ISBA’s plan to keep its thumb on parents bothers him.

“There are some very grave privacy concerns,” Woodruff told IdahoReporter.com.

The ISBA’s Resolution No. 5, which the group will consider at its statewide conference this month, asks the Idaho Legislature to avoid expanding parents rights further. The request comes just months after Idaho lawmakers passed House Bill 113, which wrote into law basic protections for parents.

“Whereas, school districts across the State may experience challenges from parents who claim that their rights may be violated by school districts, as school districts comply with various state and federal mandates,” Resolution No. 5 says.

Karen Echeveria told IdahoReporter.com the state law puts an undue burden on local school districts because to allow parents to opt their children out of certain educational activities might pose a conflict with federal requirements, like the controversial SBAC test.

The ISBA said said her members only want to find best practices by tracking opt-out requests.

“We want to keep track of requests we are getting,” she said. “Can we just wait to see what’s working and what’s not working?”

Woodruff, a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, and licensed to practice law in Virginia and Missouri, believes tracking parents gives government officials too much leverage.

It also has the potential to be a huge intimidating factor,” Woodruff said. If school districts can add critical parents to a central log, Woodruff added, they may feel less inclined to speak out when schools overstep their bounds.

Woodruff suggested districts avoid pursuing the log, and instead collaborate only when problems arise. A tracking device, he said, would prove unnecessary.

“If parents’ rights are violated, word would spread,” Woodruff said. “No one needs to create a log to communicate what’s going on in the world.”

Echeveria has not yet returned an email asking for a comment.

Woodruff suggested ISBA officials ditch the resolution, which he characterized as overreach. “It looks to me like this is a huge overreaction to the enactment of House Bill 113,” he said. “I think they failed to connect the dots and realize this is a realize this is a simple codification of what the courts have been saying for years.”

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman weighed in on the issue last month. “School boards, being truly the government closest to the people, ought to be the ones who take a stand in defense of parents, in support of locally-driven education, in support of the right of parents to make decisions regarding their kids’ education,” Hoffman wrote. “School boards either represent parents and taxpayers, or they represent the federal government and the federal bureaucracy.”

ISBA members will meet in Coeur d’Alene from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13. Read the full resolution here.

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