How Much Is Too Much?

Earlier this week we tackled a difficult but important subject: how many rights do businesses have in the face of Covid-19. Today, we take on a different but no less important subject full of controversy; how deep can your local schools inquire into the well-being of their students, specifically as their home life impacts that well-being?

This came about after a recent mistake by the Scottsdale Unified school district; it sent out a consent form to allow for emotional well-being screening, including a significant amount of more personal questions related to their family and home life. One would hope that this was truly a mistake as opposed to an attempt at crisis management.

I think we all would agree that items like the family’s income and health history are not the business of the school district. Some family dynamics absolutely do play a role in the child’s well-being, but asking about gun ownership is certainly a poor first step that is bound to provoke resistance and make even the less-contentious questions problematic as a result.

So where is that balance? The items of information that can tip off teachers and administrators to potential issues but not make the family feel like their privacy is invaded? Sorry to say, but this is a very difficult issue that we do not have an easy answer for. But one thing is for certain: we are in a highly polarized time, where even the suggestion of overreach will face stiff opposition (such as the CRT non-issue raging through school board meetings across the country). For the sake of our collective psyches, perhaps this is the time for government entities to tread very lightly on personal information collection.

Schools have gargantuan challenges in front of them, as they have throughout the entirety of the pandemic. Perhaps it would be in everyone’s best interests to focus more on getting back to some degree of normalcy and avoiding the unforced errors of unnecessary personal information collection.