Private Sexual Information Important to Prior Lake–Savage Schools and Without Parental Notification; Zero Thought Given to following Federal, State and Local School Board Laws & Policies
by Linda Bell
Prior Lake decided to administer an illegal and intrusive survey on sexual issues as well as other topics in the waning days of 2017-2018 school year. Who would know? The kids did! Kids as young as 10 and 11! The survey is marked, “required”. “I think our school board and administration know that asking a sixth-grader if they are “having sex” is personal,” stated Wes Mader, former Prior Lake mayor.
On June 6th, the district assigned all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students to take a survey on Google docs. Where is that survey information now? To whom has the school shared or sold this personal student information? Parents quickly brought this to the attention of the Prior Lake administration and school board, but as of today… crickets!
Were parents notified? No! Parents did not receive an email, call or other notification. Students were surprised about the survey as well as nature of the questions.
Did Prior Lake-Savage Schools break the law? Indeed they did! Minnesota Statute 121A.065 states that surveys must be given with, “direct and timely notice.” Direct and timely notice alone constitute an illegality. But there’s more! Here’s the full statute.
121A.065 DISTRICT SURVEYS TO COLLECT STUDENT INFORMATION; PARENT NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY FOR OPTING OUT.
(a) School districts and charter schools, in consultation with parents, must develop and adopt policies on conducting student surveys and using and distributing personal information on students collected from the surveys. School districts and charter schools must:
(1) directly notify parents of these policies at the beginning of each school year and after making any substantive policy changes;
(2) inform parents at the beginning of the school year if the district or school has identified specific or approximate dates for administering surveys and give parents reasonable notice of planned surveys scheduled after the start of the school year;
(3) give parents direct, timely notice, by United States mail, e-mail, or other direct form of communication, when their students are scheduled to participate in a student survey; and
(4) give parents the opportunity to review the survey and to opt their students out of participating in the survey.
(b) School districts and charter schools must not impose an academic or other penalty upon a student who opts out of participating in a survey under paragraph (a).
- Were parents directly notified at the beginning of each school year about survey policies, which were to be adopted in 2016?
- Were parents informed at the beginning of the school year regarding this school-wide survey? Or at any other instance prior to the survey?
- Were parents given direct timely notice? We know that answer to be no.
- Were parents given an opportunity to review the survey and possibly opt out their students from participation?
- Would Prior Lake understand that they cannot impose an academic or other penalty upon a student who opts out?
According to Prior Lake–Savage’s own School Board Policy Manual (pg. 1 Student Surveys in General) “C. Surveys containing questions pertaining to the student’s or the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) personal beliefs or practices in sex, family life, morality and religion will not be administered to any student unless the parent or guardian of the student is provided with notification that such survey is to be administered. Parents or guardians of the student will have the opportunity to have the student opt out of the survey.” This policy appears to be in alignment with Statute 121.065.
Later in the same section (pg. 2), we find this paragraph regarding funding requirements of the US Department of Education. “B. No student shall be required, as part of any program funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Education, without the prior consent of the student (if the student is an adult or emancipated minor) or, in the case of an emancipated minor, without the prior written consent of the parent, to submit to a survey that reveals information concerning: 1. political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; 2. mental and psychological problems of the student or the student’s family; 3. sex behavior or attitudes; 4. illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior; 5. critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships; 6. legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers; 7. religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent; or 8. income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).”
And once again on pg. 3 under “Annual Notice.”
“Annual Parental Notification
- The district will provide notice annually of when surveys are expected to be administered. Notice will be at the beginning of the school year, and within a reasonable period of time after any substantive change in a policy.
- The school district must inform parents at the beginning of the school year if the district or school has identified specific or approximate dates for administering surveys and give parents reasonable notice of planned surveys scheduled after the start of the school year. The school district must give parents direct, timely notice when their students are scheduled to participate in a student survey by United States mail, e-mail, or another direct form of communication.
- The notice will provide parents with an opportunity to opt out of participation in the following activities:
1. Activities involving the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the purpose of marketing or for selling that information, or otherwise providing that information to others for that purpose. 2. The administration of any third-party survey (non-Department of Education funded) containing one or more of the items contained in Section IV.B., above. 3. The school district must give parents the opportunity to review the survey and to opt their students out of participating in the survey.” Prior Lake – Savage School Board Policies may be found here. https://www.priorlake-savage.k12.mn.us/uploaded/School_Board/Policies/500/520_-_Student_Surveys.pdf
Obviously, Prior Lake–Savage administrators were very well aware of what they were doing and pushed parents out of the picture and children under the bus. Parents of this district and every district should make sure that school board policies have been updated and that the administrators are following the school board policies!!! It’s likely time for a little court action in Prior Lake-Savage.
Former Prior Lake Mayor, Wes Mader, stated what many parents are feeling, “Until the district stops filtering, censoring or limiting what parents and the public are entitled to know, many will continue to question their motives and actions. If the board doesn’t restore accountability and transparency to the district, lack of trust will continue, which is a sad state of affairs for students, teachers, residents, and tax payers.”
Prior Lake-Savage Middle School Year End Survey 2018 *REQUIRED