October 8, 2009

Bloomfield Demands Social Security Number, Birth Date

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

Members of HSLDA, the Lafferty’s called for guidance. 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 they submit any form at all, whether or not notarized.

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

Parents should be aware that under Missouri’s “Sunshine Law” (chapter 610, R.S. Mo.) 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 U.S.C. 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 has consistently fought to protect the rights of families against improper demands for information.