Parents Object to Release of Student Info to Newspaper

By: E&P Staff

Some parents from a suburban school district have complained that information from the student directory was provided to The Columbus Dispatch under a public records request.

The newspaper sought the information, usually including names, addresses and birth dates, from 17 central Ohio school districts. The data is used to check spellings and ages in stories or to contact students for stories. The Dispatch recently expanded its request to the suburban districts after seeking it from Columbus schools for four years.

About 60 parents from Dublin schools called or e-mailed the newspaper to complain.

Laura Silva, who has two children in elementary school, said she thought the information would go only into a parent-teacher organization directory to help families network. She said she feared the information would be distributed by the newspaper and could be seen by child predators.

The newspaper will not sell the information or publish the entire list, Editor Benjamin Marrison said.

The U.S. Department of Education requires districts to let parents know the information is public record and give them a chance to decide against being included in directories, spokesman Jim Bradshaw said.

Chris Valentine, school board president, said he would ask state lawmakers to change open records laws to shield the information.

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