SUNBURY — A public request for student directory information has been resolved, the Big Walnut Local School District recently announced.
During the March 16 Board of Education meeting, Treasurer Darren Jenkins said an anonymous public records request was made on Feb. 27 regarding information on all 4,200 students in the district. The district’s student directory has the student’s name, address, telephone listing, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in officially recognized activities and sports, weight and height information, members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, date of graduation, and awards received.
There was concern on the part of the district, the board, as well as parents, because it wasn’t known who was making the request and why. It was said that the requester told the district the information would not be used for profit-making purposes. Otherwise, Jenkins said that legally, the district was supposed to provide the information. The board considered declining the request and accepting a fine as the district would continue looking into its legal options, including discussion with local politicians.
On March 20, Superintendent Ryan McLane sent a note out to Big Walnut families.
“As was discussed at our Board meeting on Thursday and in my email to you on Friday, our district received an anonymous records request for our student directory information,” McLane wrote. “Since my last communication with you, I have learned that a second request was made for the same information, this time from a named individual who does not reside in our district. The anonymous records request was withdrawn. The second records request was modified and then later withdrawn as well. I wasn’t able to confirm that information to be entirely accurate until this morning.
“We did not release any student directory information to either party who made the request, and currently we do not have any outstanding requests for the student directory information,” McLane continued. “As you can imagine, many people have contacted our offices to opt their child out of the student directory information. In doing so, it prevents us from having your child in the yearbook, graduation and athletic program printed materials, and honor roll press releases. While I do not believe that was the intent of most people, it was their only option under the ‘all or none’ practice that was in place.
“We will be releasing an updated opt-out/opt-in form today, along with a copy of the annual notice,” McLane concluded. “This will give families a tiered approach on who they want their information released to, if they want it released at all. If you initially opted out, because that was your only option at the time, you may update your intentions by completing the new form. We are trying to make sure we have provided options that truly reflect the wishes of the families in our district.”
The district’s website at www.bwls.net has a Forms/Links page with a FERPA form.
“Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents have the right to opt their child out of directory information and communication tools such as, but not limited to, district and school newsletters; district annual report; school yearbook; local newspapers; the district web site; and broadcast media,” the form states. “NOT TO OPT OUT (CHECKING THE “I DO” BOX) means when we are highlighting student achievement and celebrating success in our schools your child may be photographed, videotaped or interviewed by district and school publications and/or local newspapers and broadcast media.”
Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected]