Dear members of the Board of Education,
My name is Michelle Levell and I represent School Choice for New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Both organizations are concerned about elements in the proposed revisions to Ed 306, the Minimum Standards for New Hampshire’s public schools.
There are several glaring problems with these changes including:
— the revision includes a psychology mandate and still does not include parental consent. Ed 306.25 needs to be amended as follows:
Ed 306.25 (c) Only after obtaining informed parental consent may the school psychologist [shall] provide comprehensive psychological services throughout various learning environments to help children and youth develop academic, social, behavioral, and emotional competence through:
— the proposal includes language that was specifically removed from SB 48 (2013) by the legislature; changing “dispositions” to “work study practices” only masks this deception:
Ed 302 (r) “Work study practices” means those behaviors that enhance learning achievement and promote a positive work ethic such as, but not limited to, listening and following directions, accepting responsibility, staying on task, completing work accurately, managing time wisely, [respecting authority, observing rules,] showing initiative, and being cooperative. Changed to be consistent with the final version of SB 48, 2013 session.
— there are no parental opt-out provisions to secure student’s private information which is critical given that the protections are greatly reduced with recent FERPA changes:
— all the proposed changes are an unfunded mandate; there is no fiscal note nor any cost estimates provided by BOE or DOE.
These changes are very alarming and must be altered before final adoption.
The proposed revision includes a Comprehensive Psychological Services (Ed 306.25) without requiring parental consent. This is unconscionable. Parents are the primary care providers for their children and must give consent prior to any kind of health or mental health service. Currently most schools require parents to provide written permission prior to their children receiving any OTC medication or other related services from school personnel. There should also be consequences to any school that fails to obtain parental consent prior to providing psychological services to a student. To eliminate parents from the notification and permission procedures for psychological services will expose all school districts, and potentially the BOE and DOE, to massive lawsuits. Taxpayers would be stuck with the financial burden of this legal exposure. In order to protect school districts and taxpayers, you must include parental consent.
Similarly, the proposed changes include language that was specifically removed from SB 48 (2013) by the legislature. In the Committee of Conference, the legislature removed “dispositions” from the student information that would be collected and tracked. Dispositions refer to attitudes and behavior. So which attitudes and behaviors will be included in public school children’s records and how will that information be used? This is very disturbing and not appropriate in a student’s academic record. This information is also available to any government agency and even corporations.
Also Ed 306 should provide parental opt-out provisions to give additional protections to sensitive student information. FERPA is not a sufficient protection given the changes made in 2008 and 2011 that allow student information to be shared and sold to non-education government agencies and corporate third-parties.
The use of the Unique Pupil Identifier is an insufficient protection of our students’ privacy. Experts widely agree that data users and hackers need as few as three data points to reconstruct identity. The sensitive information collected about NH students cannot be sufficiently protected or anonymized with the UPI. Therefore, parents must have the ability to protect their child’s information and opt-out of these databases.
Finally, all of the revisions to Ed 306 fail to include any fiscal note or estimated costs. Who is going to pay for all these changes? Is the state going to provide funding to all the districts across the state? Or, more likely, will the costs be downshifted to the local school districts and taxpayers? This is an unfunded mandate and against Part I Article 28-A of the New Hampshire Constitution.
The fatal flaws of the proposed Ed 306 changes must be addressed prior to adoption and implementation. Concerned parents, citizens, and taxpayers must know that their children and their children’s sensitive information are not put at risk by the rules that govern our public school system.
Like the physicians’ oath that promises they will do no harm, the Board of Education has the fundamental responsibility to not put our children in harm’s way. I urge each Board member to reflect on how these rules can impact and hurt the children who are enrolled in our public schools.
School Choice for New Hampshire
New Hampshire Liberty Alliance