By now most of you, my constituents, have heard about the incident between two students at Kennedy High that happened last week. I’ve been receiving quite a bit of feedback about the way the communication was handled, and I want your opinions.
Most of the feedback I’ve been getting is pretty much summed up as, “we should have been told something was happening and that more details were forthcoming.”
Apparently, the district was waiting for the full details of the case from the district attorney, whether there were charges filed, etc. But I think parents don’t care so much about details like that as much as information that precautions are being taken. In fact, I’ve asked the Communications office to report to Kennedy parents something along these lines:
An incident between two students has happened at school today, and the police are involved. A suspect is in custody, and while we are taking every step to ensure the safety of your children, we are not at liberty at this time to share more details. We believe this is an isolated incident, but our Safety office has been dispatched to provide additional security at the school regardless.
Some of you have even expressed a little frustration about our district notification priorities, even sharing with me that “robocalls” go out on the fly for relatively low-priority things, but that safety notifications are much lower on the priority totem pole.
Keep in mind, however, that we have to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which requires us to keep student information confidential, except from “appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.).” Further, state law requires us to follow that federal law.
Still, I think that we can let you know about incidents without sharing all the details that would violate a student’s rights to privacy. What do you think?