MADISON, Wis. – A lobbyist for the private school voucher industry has said his group, School Choice Wisconsin, is seeking to force at least 30 Wisconsin school districts to divulge personal information of minor children including their names, addresses, phone numbers, grade levels and schools attended. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said the voucher industry owes parents concerned about the safety of their children answers about how this extremely sensitive data will be used and who will be able to access it.
“The voucher industry needs to immediately disclose what school districts they’re targeting with their request so parents will know if their children’s sensitive personal information may have to be turned over. And every parent in these districts deserves answers to questions like just who is going to know their child’s age, where they live and where they go to school,” said Ross.
The open records request filed by School Choice Wisconsin requests directory data from public schools. According to state law, this information includes, “those pupil records which include the pupil’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, photographs, degrees and awards received and the name of the school most recently previously attended by the pupil.”
The voucher school lobbyist making the requests indicated that the personal data of children has been made of at least 30 school districts across Wisconsin and that the information will be utilized in marketing efforts to recruit children to attend their member private schools.
Ross noted this means that outside parties and vendors hired by the group could have access to the information. To date representatives of the voucher industry have not divulged information about what, if any, third parties will have access to the data or provided assurances that vendors would not use things like prison-based telemarketers, resell the data to others or allow access to the data beyond the borders of the state or country.
He concluded, “This request to force schools to turn over information about their minor students by private school voucher lobbyists is just plain sleazy. And the lack of assurances from the voucher industry that they have any procedures in place to protect that data from falling in to the wrong hands is downright scary.”