Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Thursday a bill by Sen. Scott Wilk that prohibits educational institutions from including directory or personal information of a student or parent in their meeting minutes.
Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, penned Senate Bill 1036 in February after learning of issues that stemmed from a Saugus Union School District board meeting. At the meeting, a student’s grandmother who spoke during the public comment portion of a meeting learned that her residential address had been published as part of the official record of the meeting’s minutes. She then called it to the attention of Wilk’s office, Wilk said earlier this month.
Currently, California and federal law allows for the publishing and release of personal information such as full names, home addresses and telephone numbers by California school boards in the minutes of their board meetings.
“There is no reason a school board needs to publicize a person’s address when he or she is weighing in on a controversial issue,” Wilk said in a news release. “With so many concerns about the compromising of personal information in this age of technology and fast-flowing information, it is logical to put policies in place to protect someone’s privacy when they participate at the school board level.”
A Saugus Union School District board member earlier this month objected to the spotlight the bill ended up placing on the district.
“I was really disappointed that to some extent we were targeted to be an example that there’s vulnerability that exists within our district,” board member Paul De La Cerda said during an SUSD board meeting.
“It would have been nice to know, ‘Hey, by the way, I’m going to be stating your school district’ (in the bill)… I feel what was represented was not fair in stating that we did not have a system that discloses regarding when parents come to speak, so the homework wasn’t done in that case,” De La Cerda said.
Wilk said he had met with then-SUSD Superintendent Joan Lucid at the time, and the district subsequently changed its policy.
“But just because they changed their policy doesn’t mean other school districts have,” Wilk said in response, explaining the impetus for the bill. “I went onward with the bill because I think every parent should have their privacy protected. I’m going to do the bill anyway because there are hundreds of school districts across the state, and Joan said she understood that.”