Safety or privacy? Some concerned school safety measures violate kids' privacy

Civil liberties advocates say an effort to prevent more school shootings could infringe on your child's civil rights.

The safety commission investigating the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland says schools can and should share student's school and medical records with law enforcement  if it means saving other students' lives.

But the American Civil Liberties Union says allowing that kind of access could lead to students being investigated for many other things.


To make sure no student goes through another school massacre, Florida safety commissioners say records of students who make threats need to be openly shared.  In their investigation, commissioners said, they found administrators were too overly cautious about federal privacy laws to not share credible information about gunman Nicholas Cruz with law enforcement.

The commission said significant threats are exceptions to privacy laws FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

The commission said all districts, police, mental health care providers, and parents can legally share school or medical records with one other when they fear the student or other students are in imminent danger.

"We just need to make sure that kids' rights aren't trampled," said Michelle Morton, the juvenile justice policy coordinator for the ACLU’s Florida chapter. "If there's no privacy around mental health, then those kids who need it are going to be less likely to ask for help."

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What went wrong? Commission highlights safety issues, delayed response during Parkland shooting

In response to Parkland's surveillance video being on a 20-minute delay, the safety commission says all districts should now give law enforcement agencies live access to cameras in their schools so they can track a gunman's moves in real time.

But the ACLU says that kind of free access infringes on students' civil liberties.

"If law enforcement knows that Bobby stole a car and there were some other kids involved but they don't know who, well they can just watch who Bobby eats lunch with to decide who they're going to interview. And that's not how our system works," Morton said.

The ACLU says school arrests and the use of the Baker Act have gone up since Parkland. They say if you feel like your child's rights have been violated, you can file a complaint on their website.

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