March 3, 2016
On February 29, 2016, Judge Kimberly Mueller called a court hearing to discuss the current status of this case. During this hearing Judge Mueller stated clearly that the discovery process will move forward. Judge Mueller outlined the history of this case, beginning in December 2011, as well as the requirements of FERPA, The Family Educational Right to Privacy Act, which is the federal law requiring that notice be given before private student information is disclosed.
Judge Mueller also referenced the objections received by the Court. She noted that the objections would not block the discovery process. Judge Mueller specifically expressed concern that some of the objections received by parents may not be fully informed, given that some of the information regarding this case has been “alarmist,” despite the security protocol in place.
The Court indicated that these objections will be noted as large in number and interpreted as strongly objecting to the public disclosure of private information, as well as reinforcing the need for security of sensitive data. The court will acknowledge and protect the objections, and keep them in a secure location within the courthouse.
Judge Mueller decided to revisit the e-discovery security protocol in order to strengthen protections for CDE’s largest database: CALPADS. The Judge instructed the Special Master to propose any necessary modifications to the security protocol, including additional safeguards for the handling of sensitive information. This change means that this database will not be removed from the California Department of Education’s building.
Immediately after the hearing, the attorneys for both Plaintiffs and Defendants met to discuss the case. Judge Mueller issued an order after court hearing, which is available online and on the CCPA website.
It is important for the public, especially parents, to understand that this is a civil rights case largely focused on anti-discrimination. The merits of this case will be tried in the court of law—not through the media. We appreciate your ongoing interest in this lawsuit and the rights of students with disabilities in the state of California.