Boston to Consider Regulating What Info Schools Pass to Police

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Boston City Council is today considering implementing regulations that would limit what information school district officials can share with law enforcement. 

A proposal put forward by councilors suggests that schools should not be allowed to give police any information regarding a student's immigration status, ethnicity, neighborhood of residence, the languages they speak, or their suspected gang affiliation. 

Under the proposal, a community board would be established to keep tabs on the school district's information-sharing policy. 

Schools would be permitted to pass information to law enforcement agencies regarding a student's possession of guns or drugs with the exception of alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. The sharing of intelligence regarding credible safety threats and instances of serious violence would also be allowed.

A student privacy policy was first presented to the council's School Committee in mid-April by school district officials. According to the Boston Globe, the district now plans to “finalize a second policy governing access to students in school, so that the two policies may be considered by the school committee together.”

Boston Public Schools spokeswoman Jessica Ridlen said: "We believe these two policies will meet the intentions of the proposed ordinance and look forward to continuing to work with the City Council to address our shared goals."

Ridlen said that the School Committee was “committed to ensuring the privacy of its students’ information and their safety and security in school.”

Earlier this year it was revealed that student information had been shared more than 100 times by Boston city agencies between 2014 and 2018. The data was disseminated via a localized intelligence-sharing network that counted among its members an agent from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A separate proposal to be discussed at today's City Council meeting concerns the possible regulation of the city's use of facial-recognition technology. The measure, put forward by councilors Michelle Wu and Ricardo Arroyo, proposes banning local authorities from obtaining or using a face-surveillance system, to use information derived from such a system, or to enter into a third-party agreement for surveilling faces.

No facial-recognition software is currently in use by the city of Boston.

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