Inappropriate Content and Transparency in Public Schools

How many parents have time to take note of the inroads perversion is making in public schools?  Here are a few examples from the State of Florida over the last two years.

  • April 2018: First Coast News reported on a highly inappropriate question in an 11th grade Duval County Anatomy class.
  • January 2018: Tampa Bay Times reported that a “Matchomatics” survey, used as a fundraiser, was handed out to Pasco County students asking about their “sexual orientation” apparently without parental permission. The same Canadian based company that runs “Matchomatics” also appears to have a sister survey titled “Friendomatics”.
  • April 2018: High school reading material in Florida that some describe as pornographic (note: the quotes from student reading material are explicit). No teenager should be encouraged to read this trash.  If that isn’t porn in a book then I don’t know what would be!  How is that material legal for schools to peddle?  Some of these books are in Hillsborough County High School libraries.
  • April 2017: ABC Action News reported on a Hernando County teacher who surveyed middle school students with inappropriate questions on a survey titled “How Comfortable Am I?”
  • May 2016: Tampa Bay Times reported that School Board Member April Griffin proposed including a question about sexual behavior in a student survey, and that the motion passed.

How many of these surveys become part of a students’ permanent digital record, available for hackers to sell off or for “researchers” to siphon out of the state longitudinal database or other systems like Edsby?  In case you missed it, I have already presented concerns about how well the privacy of student data is protected.

How do citizens and parents review or object to instructional materials when they cannot readily see what is required reading on the county or school websites?  Shouldn’t student surveys be published on the district website for parents and citizens to review? Citizens should not feel pushed into submitting a public records request to get complete information about instructional materials.

Some parents do make huge efforts to protect their children from access to crude and age-inappropriate topics on television, radio, and the internet.  Those considerable efforts and the desire of parents to raise children in a wholesome way should not be devalued programmatically by the state or county through “educational” materials or programs.  It is not the duty of schools to query student feelings on such deeply personal and sensitive topics.

School curriculum, required reading lists, surveys, and student handbooks should be openly published.  It appears some information, like the Hillsborough County Student Handbook, is hidden in online platforms like MySpot that require citizens or parents to create user accounts.

It doesn’t help that even when laws are passed, Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) doesn’t always know about the law.  According the Auditor General’s March 2018 Report, Hillsborough County School District didn’t perform the required background checks “regarding sexual predators and sexual offenders” on over 42,000 school volunteers as required by law.  The auditor general report also explains Hillsborough Schools didn’t always perform “Required background screenings…for…instructional and non-instructional employees”.

What was the consequence of that colossal failure – an auditor general report, an unflattering news report, and the possibility of harm to a child? Meanwhile, A.P. Dillon has been reporting on this quiet epidemic in schools.

Hillsborough County School District has its’ own history with sexual misconduct:

According to the ABC News article (above) from 2008, “[Hillsborough] district officials do everything they can to vet employees”, that did not appear to be the case according to the recent Auditor General’s report.  Did they forget so quickly they have a responsibility to protect children?

Tanja Arja, HCPS spokesperson, explains in this WFLA report “Once the auditor made us aware of that we changed our processes”.

When did ignorance of the law become an excuse for not performing the required background checks?  When is preserving the innocence of children and the safety of children going to be a priority?

Did anyone report on the HCPS response to Finding 10 from the Auditor General Report?

The finding states: “Some unnecessary information technology (IT) user access privileges existed that increased the risk that unauthorized disclosure of student social security numbers may occur.”

The HCPS response to Finding 10 in the Auditor’s report: “HCPS is in the process of releasing a bid to replace the district’s legacy student information system as part of a multi-year project.  As the current system was not designed to differentiate security access to social security numbers…”

That HCPS response included no time commitment regarding when this upgrade will be fully implemented to better protect social security numbers.

But that takes us back to more privacy concerns

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