Keeping schools safe should protect privacy and rights of students and families

School entrance sign. Photo, CD Davidson-Hiers

Amid the debate about arming teachers with guns and numerous other school safety measures, 40 national and state organizations, including some in Florida, are signing on to a list of 10 principles related to school safety.

The principles are designed to protect students’ privacy, dignity and right to an equal education, to make sure school safety measures “do not harm the students they are meant to protect.”

The Florida PTA, League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida Association of School Psychologists are among the groups involved. Civil rights, disability and mental health organizations also have signed on.

Among the principles:

School safety measures must not discriminate, reinforce biases or rely on profiling students, and because a student has a disability doesn’t mean the student is a potential threat.

Security cameras and other surveillance at school should not be misused;

A student categorized as a threat should be reviewed by school administrators who can take into account the student’s circumstances;

School safety measures should focus on prevention and creation of a supportive school climate.

The principles stem from the Education Privacy Project at the Future of Privacy Forum, a nonprofit in Washington D.C.

The policy project cited Florida’s safety proposals, including legislation that requires schools to ask students about mental health referrals at the time of registration.




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