May 20, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Blue Valley teacher violates student’s privacy over medical mask exemption

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A Blue Valley Northwest teacher is under fire today after parents complained she promised to tell her Facebook followers whether a student with a medical mask exemption was utilizing the exemption the next day.

“I’ll let you know if her daughter shows up with a mask on Wednesday or if she’s still using her exemption,” Cox responded to one friend. 

In a reply to another friend who asked if the child uses an exemption, Cox wrote, “I’ll see her kid in class Wednesday and let you know.”

A concerned citizen provided screenshots of the posts to the Sentinel.

A number of federal laws protect student privacy rights, including the No Child Left Behind Act. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects students and their parents from the non-approved disclosure of personally identifiable information about students, including the health information districts collect at enrollment. Kansas law also protects student privacy through the Kansas Student Data Privacy Act.

“The right of privacy of students and their families will be protected in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” the district privacy policy reads. “At the beginning of each school year, in the district parent handbook, the district shall provide parents notice of Kacitheir rights under this policy and applicable law.”

District officials say Cox’s Facebook statements are “not consistent with Blue Valley Board Policy.”

“This personnel matter was promptly addressed through the Human Resources Department and appropriate action was taken,” Kaci Brutto, Blue Valley School District director of communications, said in an email to Sentinel.

The Blue Valley School District agreed to mandate face coverings for the 2021-2022 school year after Johnson County commissioners instituted a mask mandate for school buildings with students in grades K-8. At a contentious school board meeting, Blue Valley’s school board adopted the county mandate and expanded district guidelines to include all school buildings and students in all grade levels.

Dave Trabert, CEO of the Sentinel’s owner, Kansas Policy Institute, says this is yet another example of schools ignoring students’ academic needs.

“The Blue Valley school board and administration push politics and the tenets of critical race theory while ignoring serious student achievement issues in the district.  Blue Valley has 21% of their high school students below grade level and less than half are on track for college and career according to the Kansas Department of Education.  And that was before the district’s COVID actions kept many students out of school for most of last year.”

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