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The GAP Attorneys Blog

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

School personnel violated a student’s right to privacy by using a redacted psychiatric evaluation as a teaching tool for a literature class.

S.S. v. Mount Olive Board of Education, 56 IDELR 99 (D.N.J. 2011):  A U.S. District Court ruled for parents of a student with diabetes and anxiety as a result of the use of a redacted version of the student’s psychiatric evaluation by a school social worker and special education teacher as a teaching tool for a high school literature class.  The Court withheld a determination as to what harm, if any, the student suffered as a result of the unauthorized disclosure of his psychiatric evaluation.

A high school special education teacher wished to provide a sample psychiatric evaluation to his literature class as an instructional tool in relation to J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.”  The teacher requested a sample from the school’s social worker, who provided a psychiatric evaluation of the student, and attempted to redact personally identifiable information.  However, the students in the class were still able to identify the student due to the substantive information in the evaluation.

The parents sued, and the Court dismissed their claims under FERPA, HIPAA, IDEA and state student records laws.  Additionally, the Court dismissed the claims against the school district itself, and against various school personnel not specifically associated with the unauthorized disclosure of the student’s psychiatric evaluation.  However, the Court ruled in favor of the parents against the teacher and social worker under Section 1983, due to their violation of the student’s constitutional right to privacy.  The Court stated “no reasonable juror could find that” the teacher and social worker “did not breach a duty of care owed to” the student.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, June 25th, 2011 at 3:08 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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