Two citizens have filed requests with the Kenosha Unified School District to remove two sexually explicit books from KUSD libraries. The Kenosha Unified School district announced today that it will be considering removing two sexually explicit books because two citizens have filed “Citizens Request for Reconsideration of a Library Material” forms, which require the district to appoint an ad hoc committee to review the library materials in question. “The committee shall evaluate the materials against selection criteria for library media center collections,” said a KUSD spokesperson.
KUSD also announced that it has released thousands of KUSD student names, along with their addresses to a “citizen.” In an email sent to parents of KUSD students today at about 9:30 am, the district notified parents that the district had received a “Request for Student Directory Information from an individual in our community.” The statement also said that they are unaware of the nature of the request or what they will do with the students’ names and addresses, but that KUSD wanted to make parents aware of the data release “in case [parents] receive materials related to [pornographic books] as they will not be from the district itself.”
KCE swiftly made contact with KUSD Superintendent Jeff Weiss with a public records request to see which liberal group asked for the pornographic books to be returned to KUSD. KCE also asked Weiss for the name of the “citizen” who now possess thousands of KUSD students names and addresses.
Was it a sex offender? A violent criminal? Jeffrey Weiss, a democrat who lives in Racine, declined to give us the information to share with you today. He can’t deny access to this information for very long. Of course, if we do not get it in a timely manner we will see Jeff in court.
About six hours later, KUSD sent out a clarifying email after receiving much pushback. In this email, KUSD said:
“We are sending a clarification to the message below that was sent earlier today. Please know the information was released to the requestor as required per Open Public Records law and under guidance of legal counsel. The student directory information released included student last name, first name, address, city, state and zip code.
If you would like to restrict your student directory information from being released in the future, you can do so by:
- Contacting your child’s school office to request to opt out of the release of student directory information effective immediately, or
- Opt out of the release of student directory information during the annual registration process each year
If you have further questions, please contact your child’s school office.“
KCE has read the rules regarding the release of such information. According to a document sent to parents by KUSD, there are only certain people and agencies that can legally access this information. Here is a list of those who are able to get this sensitive info:
- A legitimate educational interest School officials with a “legitimate educational interest” may access student records under FERPA. Generally, this refers to individuals in the school district who need to know information in the student’s education record in order to perform their professional responsibility. Interest in students that “fit” a profile or category is not a legitimate educational interest. The school’s criteria for appropriate “school officials” and valid “legitimate educational interest” must be included in the annual notification to parents of their FERPA rights. A sample notice of rights, including suggested language can be found at the Family Policy Compliance Office’s website: http://www.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/lea-officials.html.
- Other schools into which a student is transferring or enrolling Schools that submit a records request or in which a student has enrolled are eligible to receive information from that student’s education records. This includes postsecondary institutions to which the student are applying. A parent (or eligible student) may also request a records transfer.
- Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes This category exception refers to federal, state, and local education agencies that must collect data or student information to audit, evaluate, or enforce educational programs. State agencies other than those responsible for education are not included. This exception is commonly used by state education agencies to justify state-level student records systems.
- Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid Information required to determine student eligibility for financial aid, the amount of aid to award, and the conditions under which aid is to be granted may be disclosed under this category; access to information needed to enforce those terms and conditions is also allowed. This exception typically applies to postsecondary institutions.
- Organizations conducting certain studies for, or on behalf of, the school The purpose of the study conducted for, or on behalf of, a school has to be to: develop, validate, or administer predictive tests; administer student aid programs; or improve instruction. Even if these conditions are met, the school may only disclose information if: the study methodology does not permit the personal identification of parents and students by anyone other than the researchers and their representatives; the information is not used for any purpose other than to complete the study; and the information is destroyed when it is no longer needed for the stated purposes of the study.
- Accrediting organizations Disclosure of personal information is permitted to an accrediting organization if it is needed to carry out the accreditation.
- Judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas Schools must release information requested by a judicial order or legal subpoena. However, the school must make a reasonable effort to notify the parent (or eligible student) in advance of compliance, unless the court or other issuing agency has ordered that the contents of the subpoena not be disclosed, or that the protected education records not be included. [34 CFR part 99.31 paragraph (a)(9)(1)]
- Health and safety emergencies Disclosure to appropriate officials is valid if the information contained in the education record is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals (34 CFR part 99.36).
- State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific state law
If state law permits, schools may release information to state and local juvenile justice authorities after receiving written certification that the information will not be disclosed to any other agency, organization, or third party without the parent’s permission, except as allowed in state law.
KCE asked KUSD which exemption from above applies. We were told that the Wisconsin Public Records statute supersedes theses rules. KCE has requested to view, in person, the information that was released to the “citizen.” KCE will not be asking for or possessing a copy of this list, but will looking at it to verify what information was released.
We will update you when we identify the books that are being asked to be removed from schools and which “citizen” has access to KUSD students’ names and addresses.