Show and Tell: Students' Personal Lives, Schools, and Parents
Public schools learn about their students' personal lives in many ways. Some are passive: a teacher observes a student kissing someone, or overhears a conversation among friends. But schools also engage in more active information-gathering about students' personal lives, through surveys and informal conversations between students and teachers, administrators, school psychologists, counselors, coaches, and other personnel. This Article explores the competing privacy considerations that result from such encounters. Once schools have learned highly personal information about their students, does it violate those students' privacy rights to disclose that information to their parents? Or does keeping the information secret violate the parents' constitutional right to direct the upbringing of their children, often framed as a privacy right of its own? And what are the limits on schools' ability to probe for such information in the first place? This Article brings together the parallel lines of cases addressing these questions, showing how students' and parents'privacy interests converge in the context of schools' extraction of students 'personal information, only to be pitted against each other regarding the disclosure of such information. Moreover, it explores the underlying normative question that links the extraction and disclosure issues: how should schools approach their-to some extent, inevitable-role in students' personal and family lives? This Article argues that recognizing stronger limitations on schools' ability to probe into students' personal lives, while giving schools broad discretion as to how to handle such information provided that it has been legitimately obtained, is not only consistent with both of the constitutional privacy interests at stake, but also good policy.
Waldman, Emily Gold, "Show and Tell: Students' Personal Lives, Schools, and Parents" (2015). Connecticut Law Review. 277.