CAMDENTON, Mo. — A new online registration system for Camdenton R-III School District students has some parents concerned about school overreach into private student medical information. Camdenton R-III District Health Coordinator Rhonda Franken has acknowledged the issue and pointed to ways parents can get around it.
In particular, a privacy statement waiver in the online registration gives the school district permission for any member of the Camdenton R-III School District staff involved with a student to share medical information with each other, and with the student’s physician, without parental knowledge, possibly including any "vendor" that may do business with the school.
(*Note: the sharing of medical information includes the exchange of private information between the school and the physician – both ways).
When Camdenton R-III School District parents and students go to the district website, a box pops up that reads:
Mandatory Information for Back to School
Mandatory Registration, Enrollment, and Meet the Teacher Information is included in this news article, which takes you directly to the "Resources" section of our website with all of our "Back to School" information for the 2018-2019 school year. The mandatory online registration process will be available on August 1st. ALL parents (of new and returning students) will need to register their students using Parent Portal (Click "Parent" tab).
Once in the registration process, a privacy statement waiver reads:
I hereby authorize the mutual exchange of health records regarding my child. I give permission for this information to be exchanged between the Camdenton R-III Health Services Staff and any other staff member involved in the welfare of this student. I also give permission for my student’s health information to be exchanged with the physicians listed for my student. I release the Camdenton School R-III School District from any liability associated with the release of information.'
Parents cannot register their child online without checking the box that approves the privacy statement waiver.
A Question of Privacy
“I feel this violates my children’s privacy,” Camdenton R-III School District parent Mindi Sales said. Sales has two children that attend school in the district. “A Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act FERPA Bill associated with school policy regarding medical information further states that anyone considered an employee of the district includes a ‘vendor’ and they too can access this medical information. I have a problem with this because now my student’s medical information is out there for anybody and it can be compromised. I prefer to keep my child’s private medical information between myself and my child’s doctor.”
Parents are also concerned that this could lead to the school monitoring, recording and then sharing medication and treatment choices that parents make for their own children.
Amy Heier has two children that attend school in the Camdenton R-III District, and two that have already graduated, and she feels the release waiver is an overreach by the district, and takes authority away from parents and transfers it to the school staff and physician. “The school could use or even demand medication for some students just because they don’t quite fit in the box,” Heier said. “Many parents are not as knowledgeable about their rights and so they could take their recommendation as ‘this is what the school said, so this is what I should do.’”
Special Medical Cases Need Waiver
Camdenton R-III District Health Coordinator Rhonda Franken said there are cases when the information could be beneficial. “We have students with complex medical conditions, such as seizure disorders and Type One Diabetes and so there are times when we need clarification from the student’s physician on how they want the student treated,” Franken explained. “We also might need to call a student’s physician in a medical emergency.”
Waiver Releases School from Liability
The above medical statement waiver also absolves the school from any liability, so that if a student’s private medical information is compromised, the district is held harmless.
A Software Issue
Franken said the school has added nothing new to the registration process and this privacy statement waiver has always been included in the registration packet in the health inventory data sheet. The problem this year is with the new online registration program. “We are locked into using all the online forms this year and we cannot make any changes until next year,” Franken said.
Parental Choice: Opt Out
In the meantime, parents who want to register online but want to opt out of the medical waiver can check the box online and then call Franken at 573-346-9209 to revoke the right of the school district to access and share their student’s medical information. Parents would then need to go to the school and sign the registration forms manually.
Parents have three options when it comes to sharing their child's medical information:
- Allow the sharing of their student’s medical information between the staff, (those who work with the child) vendors and doctors
- Allow the sharing of their student’s medical information between staff and vendors only.
- Allow the sharing of their student’s medical information only with the student’s physician.