Christina Kishimoto Turns a Blind Eye as GPS Violates Privacy Laws with Impunity

Let’s talk about laws that Superintendent Christina Kishimoto flouts: laws protecting the privacy of students and their parents in educational institutions, such as Gilbert Public Schools. Some of these laws are based on civility. However, in the GPS culture as it exists today, administrators and staffers in Gilbert Public Schools  do whatever they want, and they don’t give a flying flip about who gets hurt. After all, someone who has a disability or is homeless should get off Christina Kishimoto’s lawn!

In spite of mixed metaphors above, this is a serious subject, and GPS is doing great harm to vulnerable people. From all that Westie can fathom, it’s the culture of GPS to flip off and disregard any law, comment or criticism that Christina Kishimoto doesn’t like, such as Arizona’s Open Meeting laws. Today, we’ll examine how carelessness, laziness or just plain old orneriness determines what GPS puts into public records … which results in embarrassing and humiliating students, their parents and everyday citizens.

Green Bar reports, also known as vouchers, are published into the public sphere, and the GPS governing board approves those vouchers, most often without comment. One member of the GPS governing board is tasked with reviewing those vouchers before the board votes: that’s Board Clerk Jill Humpherys. Silly Jilly has made many excuses about how hard it is to do her job … man, it requires looking at NUMBERS and doing some critical thinking, and no one applauds, so to hell with it.

Before Silly Jilly Humpherys was Board Clerk, GPS staffers were really diligent about redacting student names, because board members reviewed line items and called out questionable entries. Now that Lily Tram is Board President, Silly Jilly Humpherys is Board Clerk and Christina Kishimoto is Superintendent, there’s a culture of indifference about releasing students names. With that introduction, you know we’re going to focus on evidence of violations of law shown in those vouchers, don’t you?

In recent months, GPS has been releasing the public records in those green bar reports in ways that violently trample personal privacy for vulnerable people. Some such victims are students with disabilities, some are parents who are reimbursed for transporting their differently abled children to schools (and saving GPS some big bucks by doing so). When the green bar reports show the name of the parent who is reimbursed for transportation expenses, it’s easy to extrapolate that their children have some sort of disability. Some people, including Westie, believe this violates privacy and flies in the face of civility. Do you really care if your neighbor down the street is transporting their disabled child to school? Why would GPS want to publicly reveal that information?

Sometimes, GPS posts the names of students in the green bar report. We are not going to show examples in this post; when GPS does this, it’s a repugnant violation of privacy. Even worse, it violates federal laws that protect personally identifiable information about a student. That law is FERPA, but it has no teeth because there’s no private cause of action for parents whose children’s privacy has been violated. The biggest deal is that maybe the federal government will withhold federal funds … and pigs will fly. You get the idea.

Examples of GPS detestable violations of privacy in June 2016 include a Psychoeducational Evaluation for a named student, “not to exceed $1,800.00.” There’s a transportation reimbursement not to exceed $700 to a parent whose child’s name is helpfully placed in parenthesis in the line item. Actually, there are several ways that GPS makes sure the child’s name is connected to a parent who was reimbursed for providing disability transportation.

There are several entries for “McKinney Vento” in the green bar reports. That’s not the name of a parent or child, that’s the name of a program that provides federal funding to states for the purpose of supporting district programs that serve homeless students. GPS has no compassion for homeless students; they just put the names of some of those kids out in public and make sure everyone knows they’re McKinney Vento kids. Sometimes, GPS tells you what school a homeless child attends. Are you disgusted yet?

These children and teens, 29,537 total, are enrolled in our public schools and many struggle daily, isolating from peers, missing class, repeating grades, and even dropping out of school entirely. The devastating impact of homelessness creates a wedge to social relationships and learning.

It doesn’t have to be a total invasion of a student’s privacy to cause irreparable harm; teenagers are notoriously easy to humiliate. An example: GPS told a story about WHY the parents received a refund in a Green Bar comment: “Parents pulled the student off the **** team due to grades.” No, the redaction isn’t a vulgar word, it’s just a type of team, but including it here might embarrass said student, who might have given a completely different reason to teammates and friends for being off the team.

More examples, going back to September 2015: nursing services for a number of GPS students, identified by name, school and cost of services provided to the student. Some are eight hours a day, five days a week at various GPS schools; most are listed as costing thousands of dollars. There’s another Psychoeducational Evaluation for a named student, “not to exceed $2,175.00.” Plus an IQ test for $300.00 for a named child. The list of  “student refunds” and “student lunch account” refunds name individual students and their parents.

GPS can do whatever Christina Kishimoto says (or turns a blind eye to), so suck it, parents and kids! There’s a densely worded policy that allows Christina Kishimoto to give away or sell your child’s personal protected information and you will never know about it.  A GPS permission form is sent out each year. Or not. It’s an opt-out policy, so good luck proving you never saw this form, parents! Obviously, anyone can set up bogus bank accounts or get a drivers license or do any number of nefarious things with the protected personal information parents gave GPS, expecting that such information would be actually PROTECTED:

Designation of Directory Information

During the school year, District staff members may compile nonconfidential student directory information such as: The student’s name, date and place of birth, address, telephone number, grade, school of attendance, most recent school attended, diplomas, awards and honors received, major field of study, and record of participation in officially recognized activities (sports and school events), such as weight, height, and team number.

According to state and federal law, this directory information as identified above may be publicly released without permission of parents. However, if you do not wish any or all of the above information released about your son/daughter, you may so request by signing the form at the bottom of this page and returning it to ____________, principal, within __ days. If this notification is not received, we will assume that your permission is given to use your son’s/daughter’s directory information as described above.

Even the GPS go-to attorneys warn against the kind of thoughtless, lawless  and cruel conduct that GPS has institutionalized as district policy. Here’s what GPS attorneys advise … advice that GPS and Christina Kishimoto ignore … because they can:

Personal Information

It is important that information that would personally identify the student be kept private. This means that information cannot be provided to the public if a person would be able to reasonably identify the student from the information provided.

When a complaint regarding student privacy arises, it must be handled appropriately. All complaints need to be taken seriously. Immediate action is required. First, steps must be taken to ensure that there is not a breach of security. Then, the complaint should be researched to determine exactly what the complainant alleges was improperly disclosed. Some complaints can be easily resolved, while others may be serious and require the involvement of the school or district’s attorney.   Administrators should have a plan in place to resolve complaints.

GPS doesn’t need parental consent to release this information, either. Because Christina Kishimoto says so. Suck it, parents and kids! The lawyers say otherwise:

Freedom of Information
Information is allowed to become public unless it falls into a protected category. Student information generally falls under the category of a protected interest, which is personal privacy. Providing personal information to the public could be harmful to the child, even if he is no longer a student. The files are deemed private forever. It is essential that only specified employees have access to school records.

Perhaps you can guess that Westie’s next posts on FERPA violations are going to be fugly, as opposed to the *minor* examples discussed here. Stay tuned!

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