Friday, October 30, 2015

FERPA complaint from Fatima Geidi to US Dept of Education re Eva Moskowitz violation of student privacy

Since the original PBS program and the subsequent illegal disclosure of educational records by Eva Moskowitz (see our cease and desist letter), more details and instances of the widespread nature of suspensions and push-out tactics of Success Academy charters have been documented in this NY Times article.  

Fatima's FERPA complaint to the US Department of Education sent this morning is below; for more on how Moskowitz violated FERPA and the federal student privacy rights of Ms. Geidi's son, see this Slate article.  Sign the Color of Change petition, to demand that the US Dept of Education stop granting Success Charters millions of dollars and contributing to the Kindergarten to prison pipeline. 

October 30, 2015

U.S. Department of Education
Family Policy Compliance Office
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202-8520

By postal mail and email to: 

My name is Fatima Geidi and I reside at the following address: [removed] I am the mother of [name removed] age 10.  [name removed] was a student at Upper West Success Academy charter school at 145 W 84th St, New York, NY 10024 from August 2011 to Feb. 2014.   

The principals of the school during that period were Caroline Roby and Paola Zalkind. The current principal of the school is Jennifer Haynes. The CEO (or Superintendent) of the Success Academy Network is Eva Moskowitz, whose office is located at the following address: 95 Pine Street, Floor 6, New York, NY 10005. 

On October 12, 2015, PBS News Hour ran a segment with an interview of my son [name removed] who spoke about his experiences at Upper West Success Charter Schools, where he was repeatedly suspended for minor offenses. His face and name appeared in the video, and his name in the transcript as well, which are posted here: [removed]

On October 19, Ann Powell, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at Success Academy Charter Schools, sent out a media release to reporters, composed of a long letter from Ms. Moskowitz to Judy Woodruff of PBS that included non-directory personally identifiable information from my son’s education record in connection with certain disciplinary issues.  This media alert is attached, as well as the letter. The letter was posted on the Success Academy website the same day at: [removed]

I was not contacted at any time beforehand and did not give my consent to the disclosure of my son’s non-directory education record. 

The letter by Ms. Moskowitz includes an email from John Merrow of PBS, in which he wrote that I “was unwilling to release [my] son’s records.” This is further documented by PBS, in their response to the letter, where they write: “…the mother was not willing to allow Success Academy to release her son’s school records.”  Ms. Moskowitz herself wrote that I was “refusing to waive her son’s privacy rights.”  [removed]

I learned about this nonconsensual disclosure of my son’s non-directory information on October 20, from a friend.  I sent a letter to Ms. Moskowitz on October 22, also attached, demanding that the original letter be taken down and all further disclosures from his record to cease.  link here:
I subsequently learned that on October 21, Ms. Moskowitz had sent a second letter to Ms. Woodruff, repeating her false claims that my son was suspended for “conduct dangerous to other students and himself.” This letter is still posted at [removed] and is attached.

On October 23, Ms. Moskowitz replied to my cease and desist letter, claiming a “constitutional right” to divulge details from my son’s disciplinary record. This letter was originally posted to the Success Academy website but now only the first part is, with my name removed at:  [removed]. The original full letter is attached.

On October 25, a press release from Success Academy again contained details from my son’s purported disciplinary record and is posted here:  [removed]

As of today, October 30, 2015, these letters containing non-directory information from my son’s education records are still displayed at the Success Academy website at the above URLs. These letters have been linked to by many blogs and media outlets, including the PBS website.  

These repeated disclosures by Ms. Moskowitz of my son’s disciplinary record are egregious and willful violations of FERPA and his federal right to privacy.  I request your urgent intervention in this matter to limit the harm that has already been done to my son in violation of federal law.  

I certify that this information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge

Signed Fatima Geidi, October 30, 2015 

Moskowitz Letter_10.19.15
Success Academy Press Release_10.19.15
Moskowitz Letter_10.21.15
Success Academy Press Release_10.21.15
Cease and Desist_Geidi_10.22.15
Moskowitz Letter to Geidi_10.23.15
Moskowitz Letter_10.25.15
Success Academy Press Release_19.25.15
Geidi FERPA complaint 10.30.15

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