Mar 302013
 March 30, 2013  Posted by  Laws, Youth & Schools

Keith Norman reports:

A bill under consideration in the North Dakota Legislature is prompting concern among some parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders. The bill, Senate Bill 2193, creates a database of information about autistic people and establishes the position of a state autism coordinator.

“I have minor concerns about it all but what is extremely upsetting is the mandated database,” said Amanda Lausch, mother of 5-year-old Ariella who has an autism spectrum disorder. “Whoever diagnoses them is required to report it to the state. It requires a physical exam and the state can collect any other information it deems appropriate.”

Read more on The Jamestown Sun.

Mar 292013
 March 29, 2013  Posted by  Court, Surveillance, U.S., Youth & Schools

Back in October 2009, I blogged about a lawsuit alleging Owensboro Public Schools in Kentucky violated a student’s constitutional rights and its own district policies in conducting a warrantless cellphone search and then expelling the student.  Somewhere between then and now, I missed the court opinion’s in the case, but apparently, they had granted the district’s request for summary judgement and dismissed the case.  The student, G.C., appealed, and yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued its ruling:

G.C. appeals the district court’s resolution of three of his claims: (1) his due process claim, in which he argues that he was denied a hearing prior to expulsion as required by Kentucky statute; (2) his Fourth Amendment claim based on the September 2009 search, in which he contends that school officials violated his constitutional rights when they read text messages on his phone without the requisite reasonable suspicion; and (3) his Rehabilitation Act claim, in which he argues that the defendants failed to identify him as disabled under § 504.

For the reasons stated below, we REVERSE the district court’s grant of summary judgment on G.C.’s due-process claim and on G.C.’s Fourth Amendment claim based on the September 2009 search. We AFFIRM the district court’s grant of summary judgment on G.C.’s Rehabilitation Act claim. We REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

You can read the full opinion here (pdf).

h/t, Kurt Opsahl

Mar 292013
 March 29, 2013  Posted by  Laws, Youth & Schools

Valerie Strauss writes that Steve Winnick, senior counsel at EducationCounsel LLC and former former deputy general counsel of the U.S. Department of Education, thinks many of us are misunderstanding FERPA in our concerns  about the new $100M database funded by the Gates Foundation.  He writes:

Since the launch of non-profit inBloom earlier this month, there has been much discussion regarding the privacy and use of student data and the role of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In particular, the 2011 FERPA regulatory amendments were discussed in Valerie Strauss’ earlier post. She has given us the opportunity to address some misunderstanding about inBloom’s service and its compliance with FERPA.


The disclosure of student records to the inBloom data services is allowed by two different provisions in FERPA. The first provision allows schools to disclose student records to school officials with a legitimate educational interest in the records, including private contractors hired by a school district, when the student records are needed to provide the contracted services. This applies to inBloom, which is contracted by school districts to provide technology services for school administrators and teachers. USED spelled out rules authorizing disclosure of student records to school district contractors in 2008 (see section 99.31(a)(1)(B)); however, this type of disclosure was consistently allowed long before it was codified in 2008 (for example, see this 2004 USED advisory opinion).

The second FERPA provision allows disclosures of student records to authorized representatives of state or local education officials for the purpose of evaluating, auditing or complying with federal- or state-supported education programs. This is not the primary purpose of inBloom, but is a secondary benefit of states’ participation in inBloom.

Read more of his response on Washington Post.

Mar 292013
 March 29, 2013  Posted by  Govt, Surveillance

Amy Pavuk reports:

In its ongoing effort to crack down on the nation’s prescription-drug epidemic, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has gone after doctors, pharmacists, pharmacy chains, wholesale drug suppliers — and now FedEx and UPS.

Even though the DEA will not confirm it is engaged in the probe, both companies have disclosed in corporate filings that they are targets of a federal investigation related to packages shipped from online pharmacies.

Based on the allegations, it appears federal officials are suggesting the shipping companies take responsibility for the prescription drugs inside packages they are transporting.

FedEx officials have called the California-based probe “absurd and deeply disturbing” and a threat to customers’ privacy.

Read more on Orlando Sentinel.

Thanks to Joe Cadillic for this link.