Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Civil rights groups raise privacy concerns over post-Parkland school security database

The groups planned to send a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday morning.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students Victoria Gonzalez and Liam Kiernan embrace at a memorial in front of the school Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, during one year anniversary of the shooting deaths of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Published Jul. 9
Updated Jul. 9

TALLAHASSEE — Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and several that advocate for people with disabilities or mental illnesses, said Tuesday that the state should re-evaluate its plan for creating an expansive database of student discipline and behavior.

In a letter scheduled to be sent to Gov. Ron DeSantis at 6 a.m. Tuesday, the 32 groups wrote that the still-developing database amounted to an “overly broad” attempt at “mass surveillance” of students that could end up discouraging kids from reporting bullying incidents or mental health needs out of fear that they could be labeled as a “potential school shooter.”

“We ask that you immediately halt the state’s construction of this database and, instead, create a commission of parents, students, and experts ... to determine whether a state database would actually help to identify school safety threats and would not pose undue harm to students,” the letter reads.

The two school safety laws passed by the state Legislature since 2018′s shooting in Parkland required that the “data repository” be created to include information from law enforcement agencies, schools, students’ social media posts, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families. That data is supposed to be shareable between those agencies, with the idea that red flags in student behavior or discipline could be detectable across bureaucratic divides.

That database is supposed to be completed by August 1.

A recent report by Education Week, which cites documents provided by the Florida Department of Education, explained more specifically what officials have considered including in the database, such as information about whether children have been victims of bullying based on race, religion, disability, and sexual orientation; have been treated for substance abuse or undergone involuntary psychiatric assessments; and if they have been in foster care.

DeSantis has been supportive of the school safety measures taken in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. Not long after taking office, DeSantis asked for a grand jury investigation into how school districts have handled student safety and ordered a statewide audit into discipline diversion programs, such as the “PROMISE” program in Broward County.

That executive order also stated that the Department of Education “shall immediately take any and all steps necessary ... to provide a centralized, integrated data repository.”

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Richard Swearingen, Florida's Commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, testifies before state lawmakers on Monday. Florida Channel
    But law enforcement officials are getting behind a “threat assessment system.”
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  5. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  8. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
  9. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  10. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement