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Back to February Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 193 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS FEBRUARY 2002

Education Department Wants
Assurances from School District
In the wake of the intrusive Search Institute survey given to 2,100 middle and high school students in the Ridgewood School District in 1999, seven parents filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) charging that the school district violated the Parent and Pupil Rights Act (PPRA).

Although three of the seven parents were dropped from the investigation after filing a lawsuit against the district in federal court, the FPCO continued its investigation on behalf of the four remaining parents and issued its findings to Ridgewood School District Superintendent Frederick J. Stokley by letter on Dec. 18, 2001. (See Education Reporter, January 2002.)

"This Office finds that the District violated PPRA when it administered the Search Institute Profiles of Student Life Attitudes and Behavior Survey without the prior written consent of the Complainants," the letter stated.

The FPCO did not impose any penalties for this violation, but it did require that the superintendent's office inform "all appropriate officials of the District of the requirements of the PPRA" and provide "written assurance" of having done so. "Specifically," the letter stated, "all appropriate officials need to be informed of the requirement that written consent be obtained from parents prior to administering a survey that is subject to PPRA." The "date and the manner" in which school district officials were informed of these requirements were to be reported to the FPCO, as were "any memorandum or other written document used to provide such guidance."

The letter to Stokley further directed that, in order to close the Department of Education's investigation, the FPCO must receive "the above requested assurances within four weeks of your receipt of this letter."


 
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