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Due to space constraints, Doc’s Digest did not appear in the January/February 2010 issue. Doc’s Digest will resume publication on a new rotating schedule beginning in the March/April issue.
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Bloomfield Demands SSN and Birth Date

After Mr. and Mrs. Lafferty (name changed to protect their privacy) took their children out of Bloomfield R-XIV school district to homeschool them, the district superintendent sent them a letter demanding that they fill out, notarize, and return a “Home School Verification” form, which asked for the child’s birthday, his Social Security number, the parents’ cell phone number, and information about the family’s homeschool program.

Members of Home School Legal Defense Association, the Laffertys called us for guidance. HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff called the superintendent and confronted him about the form. The superintendent immediately acknowledged that he had no legal right to demand that the Laffertys submit any form at all, notarized or not.

He assured Woodruff that in the future he would make it clear that filing the form is strictly optional.

Parents should be aware that under Missouri’s “Sunshine Law” (Chapter 610, Revised Statutes of Missouri) the public may be able to obtain access to just about anything the family files with the school system—including birth dates and Social Security numbers—that relates to a student who is homeschooled and not enrolled in the school. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 United States Code 1232g) generally only protects students of the school that holds the records and information in question. Since youngsters who are homeschooled (and not simultaneously enrolled in a public school) are not students “of” the school, FERPA may not protect their privacy.

This is one of the reasons HSLDA consistently fights to protect the rights of families against improper demands for information.

— by Scott A. Woodruff