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ACLU and EFF Urge Tennessee School District to Revise Allegedly Unconstitutional Tech Policy The Williamson County, Tennessee School District is “being accused of violating the constitutional rights of students over a policy that allows school officials to search any electronic devices students bring to campus and to monitor and control what students post on social media sites.” Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU of Tennessee are investigating the policy, which is “designed to protect students and adults from obscene information and restrict access to materials that are harmful to minors.” EFF and the ACLU argue that the “unconstitutional” policy “violates the First and Fourth Amendment rights, of 35,000 Williamson County students across the district's 41 schools.” The organizations have sent a letter “on behalf of a Williamson County family… urging [the district] to immediately revise [the] policy . . . and assert[ing] that the district's policies infringe on students' constitutional rights to free speech and privacy.”
The Data Quality Campaign Releases New Resources The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) recently released six new resources on data literacy, education data, and student privacy. The Campaign’s “Don’t Make Decisions in the Dark” series discusses “public reporting of education data.” DQC resources are available to download on the DQC website, free of charge.
Education Weekreports on privacy advocates’ and ed tech industry leaders’ differing views of student data usage.
Last week, the PEW Charitable Trusts published an article on the increasing prevalence of biometrics and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies in schools, as well as the student privacy concerns that come along with these technologies. In response to “worries over student privacy [that] have risen amid breaches of government and commercial computer databases,” “[s]everal states are now banning or restricting the use of the [biometric and RFID] technology in schools.”
According to West Virginia’s The Daily Athenaeum, “West Virginia University shared student email addresses in bulk form with politicians competing in the 2012 general election,” and that “some candidates may be using those emails in their 2014 races.” Emails are considered “limited use directory information,” according to the University’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) website.
EdSurge’s Charley Locke wrote a piece on how “analytics tools like Securly and Mevoked offer educators, parents and students a way to recognize harmful behavior and intervene,” “preventing cyberbullying and suicide.” Such tools have led to “concerns about student privacy,” as some privacy and free speech advocates such as EFF and the ACLU believe that this type of student social media monitoring may violate students’ constitutional rights (see Williamson County, Tennessee story above).