The Springfield City School District doesn’t like School Choice Ohio.
It accuses the advocacy group of seeking to use “directory information” on students – a category explicitly authorized for release by federal education privacy law – to spread “false and misleading information,” as a spokesperson told the Springfield News-Sun.
But the Ohio Supreme Court said spite is not a viable reason to withhold that information from a valid records request.
The district can still require parents to sign a consent form before releasing that information to requesters, but the superintendent can’t choose whether or not to send that consented-to information under his own discretion, as the school district has done for three years.
School Choice Ohio has been fighting in court for two years to get contact information for the students; the school district only turned over their names and addresses, saying (wrongly) the other information was protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
The school district is depriving students and families of “potentially life-changing information,” School Choice Ohio Executive Director Kaleigh Lemaster told SPLC:
The organization annually requests directory information from school districts to conduct outreach to families who could be eligible for school choice programs such as scholarships or other benefits. The information could also be used to help families pick a school they felt suited their children best.
Having information on schools could also help families potentially avoid underperforming schools. Springfield City School District ranks 692 out of 881 school districts in Ohio, according to the state Department of Education. …
“We think parents know their children best and are best suited to make these decisions,” Lemaster said.
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