by Guy Page
The Vermont Department of Health will provide Vermont schools with students’ Covid-19 vaccination information, as part of the in-school testing program, state officials said at Tuesday’s press conference.
The in-school testing program is touted as the best way to ensure in-person learning during the pandemic. School districts statewide face a shortage of skilled workers to conduct testing, and state officials conceded Tuesday most of the work may need to be done bynon-healthcate providers under school nurse supervision.
That night, at the October 5 Essex Westford School District board meeting, Essex parents learned their permission isn’t required for that exchange of information. The following report was received from a concerned parent who attended the meeting.
“EWSD will start the ‘Test to Stay’ program, in which unvaccinated close contacts will have to be tested in order to stay in school. Additionally, EWSD no longer needs parental permission to see if your child is vaccinated or not. EWSD has full access to vaccination status whether or not parents and guardians give permission.”
The school board also has given school board chair Kim Gleason 48 hours to respond to their recommendation she resign, because she no longer lives in Essex, the concerned parent/reporter stated. Gleason also sits on the State Board of Education, a position that would be unaffected by her resignation.
“Most members of the board expressed that Kim Gleason’s position on the board but lack of Essex residence puts the legitimacy of the board in question.
“Jack Behlendorf succinctly told Gleason that the right thing for Gleason to do is resign. Liz Cady expressed frustration at Gleason’s lack of transparency with the board by listing her house in early June but not informing any of the board of this fact until it was brought to the Board’s attention, by a community member, that her house sold on August 31. Cady further stated that Gleason’s admittance that she would not seek reelection in 2022, does not have any school-aged children, sold her home in Essex and is currently residing in her Grand Isle home shows that “intent” is lacking.”
“Gleason has been given 48 hours by the board to respond to the majority of the board’s recommendation to resign.”
There are at least two laws in play regarding parental consent on vaccination information.
First: The rules for the dissemination of this information are covered by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), not the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.
“If a person or entity acting on behalf of a school subject to FERPA, such as a school nurse that provides services to students under contract with or otherwise under the direct control of the school, maintains student health records, these records are education records under FERPA, just as they would be if the school maintained the records directly. This is the case regardless of whether the health care is provided to students on school grounds or off-site. As education records, the information is protected under FERPA and not HIPAA.”
However: According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
“… schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA.”
But don’t expect the Vermont Agency of Education, or its monopoly public schools, to follow the rules. Enforcement is simply another permutation of the judicial malaise already consuming parents with unreasonable requirements to affect their children’s education. Short of the Vermont Federal Court deciding that all Vermont students, not just those in select districts, qualify for the State’s Average Tuition voucher to attend alternative education programs, parents must do whatever they can to remove their children from this offensive State public school monopoly of their own accord.
Yes, this Vermont Federal court case is currently pending. But I suspect any decisions will be a while in coming. Parents – it’s up to you now.