June 27, 2007

Ames Apologizes for Giving Family’s Address to Mail Order Merchant

When the Asjes family began receiving unexpected mailings from a mail order company soon after filing their CPI form, they became justifiably suspicious. When they submitted their CPI form, they had carefully told the school system they did not consent to the release of any of their information.

Their suspicions were soon confirmed, however. The merchant candidly acknowledged that he had gotten the family’s name and mailing address from the Ames Public School system.

The family’s right to privacy had been flagrantly violated. They wrote and asked the Ames school system for an explanation. After two weeks elapsed with no response, they asked Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott A.Woodruff for help.

Attorney Woodruff called the superintendent’s office. She was unavailable, but called back within a few hours. Woodruff explained that it appeared the school system had violated the family’s privacy rights, and insisted the family was owed a detailed explanation, apology, and rectification. The superintendent was very concerned and promised a prompt investigation.

True to her word, the family soon received a letter acknowledging that their information had been improperly released. The letter confirmed that no other information was released, and all copies of the information held by the merchant had been destroyed. The letter promised a follow-up with any other homeschool families whose information was wrongly released. Along with an apology, the letter explained that the employee responsible for the infraction had been dealt with, and gave assurance that it would not happen again.

The school district was slow to respond to this problem initially. However, in the end it acted honorably in acknowledging its wrongdoing and trying to set things right.

In order to protect the privacy of information on your CPI form, fill out HSLDA’s “Privacy Notification Form.” Mail it return receipt requested, and file the postal receipt when it comes. Ideally, this should be sent at the same time as your CPI form. It can be sent later, but it will not protect you from violations of your privacy before the school system receives it. Without this form, your school district may release information about your family.

To get the form, go to HSLDA’s homepage, point your mouse to “members,” then click on “forms and other resources” from the drop-down menu. Enter your member user name and password (there are instructions on what to do if you don’t have one). Click on the state of Iowa on the map, and then on the “Privacy Notification Form” link.

Although use of the HSLDA form is not mandatory, other forms or methods of asserting your privacy rights may not be effective.