ACLU Sues Ohio School Board that Sold Students' Personal Information to a Bank

Affiliate: ACLU of Ohio
August 29, 2000 12:00 am

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Tuesday, August 29, 2000

CLEVELAND, OH–The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today filed a lawsuit against a local school district, saying that it violated the privacy of its students when it sold their personal information to a local bank.

“This case represents a disturbing trend on the part of the government to treat personal information as a commodity to be sold, rather than as a confidence to be safeguarded,” said Raymond Vasvari, Legal Director of the ACLU of Ohio.

The lawsuit was filed as a class action on behalf of Ed Connors of Mingo Junction, whose 10-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, is a fifth-grader at Hills Elementary School in the Indian Creek School District, and other parents with children in the three schools.

In January, parents received a solicitation from the Advanced Financial Savings Bank, inviting them to establish savings accounts on behalf of their children. The bank obtained the names and addresses of Indian Creek students through the local school district, which neither sought nor obtained parental permission before disclosing that information.

The bank used the information for its “Small Savers Prestige Accounts,” the lawsuit said.

Under state and federal law, a school may not disclose personal information of students to third parties without giving parents notice of the plan to do so and an opportunity to request that the information be kept private. In certain circumstances, schools must obtain written permission before disclosing information.

“Student rights, including the right to privacy, are among our foremost concerns at the ACLU,” said Christine Link, Executive Director of the ACLU of Ohio.

The ACLU lawsuit asks for unspecified damages and for the court to block the school district from giving the information to any other third party.

Although the case is the first of its kind in Ohio, the ACLU of Ohio has developed a national reputation for its work on behalf of students in the last two years. For more information on ACLU of Ohio cases link to

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