Wednesday, October 19, 2016

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Court Decides in Favor of Privacy

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Court Decides in Favor of Privacy:

PA: Court Decides in Favor of Privacy

 The Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week issued a long-overdue ruling with far-reaching consequences for school privacy issues.

The case dates back to 2009, when some folks asserted that Right-To-Know laws meant they could demand home addresses and phone numbers for teachers. The state teachers union fought the issue, but the lower court ruled that teachers should have the right to argue why specific their own personal info should be denied. But that was it, and it wasn't much. PSEA appealed.

Now in a unanimous ruling, the state supremes have ruled that a school district is not a directory service. And they've said in language that has some other clear implications. Here's how Emily Leader described the ruling in an e-mail to Pennsylvania School Board Association members:

The Court held individuals have a constitutional right to privacy in their home addresses under Article 1, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.  In general, individuals have a right to “informational privacy” which may not be violated unless this right is outweighed by a public interest favoring disclosure.”   The Court found that in this case there is no public interest in disclosing the school employees’ home addresses in response to this request which outweighs their interest in privacy in their home addresses.  It noted, “To the contrary, nothing in the RTKL suggests that it was ever intended to be used as a tool to procure personal information about private citizens or, in the worst sense, to be a generator of mailing lists. Public agencies are not clearinghouses of “bulk” personal information otherwise protected by constitutional privacy rights.

Does that seem a little broader than just employee's home addresses? It looks that way to PSBA, too. Here's their advice for how school districts should deal with the ruling:
CURMUDGUCATION: PA: Court Decides in Favor of Privacy:

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