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Leo parents say kids’ survey was intrusive

Tell EACS board they dislike questions on drugs, robbery

– A survey given to students at Leo Elementary last month went too far, several parents told the East Allen County Schools board Tuesday night.

On Nov. 20, Leo Elementary students in grades 4 to 6 were asked to take a 75-question Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports student survey.

The survey was created by two Leo Elementary teachers, the school’s counselor and principal William Diehl, school officials said.

Students take the PBIS surveys online, and district coordinators use the results to determine how schools are progressing, what students are experiencing and the overall school culture, according to the PBIS website.

The students were asked questions about their comfort levels in their school, whether teachers give good directions and whether students are challenged to think hard.

But the questions also included inquiries that several parents found intrusive and unethical.

“They asked my fourth grader and sixth grader whether they drink alcohol or do drugs… they asked if they have ever been robbed at school or been in a fight,” Preston Short said.

Short, the father of two girls who attend Leo Elementary, said the questions on the survey were both immoral and illegal.

“EACS has broken numerous laws involving student privacy. This survey asked questions that the district can’t ask interviewees, but asked our children without our consent,” Short said. “I feel that I have been violated – that my children have been violated with those questions.”

Short said that before the test, his children didn’t know what drugs were or what the word “robbed” means.

But now, he said, he’s forced to answer those questions about topics he hoped to keep out of his daughters’ lives.

“My job is to parent,” Short told board members. “Your job is to educate.”

Short’s wife, Marita, also spoke during Tuesday’s meeting and asked board members to consider adopting a policy to protect students from probing questions.

“I don’t want my children bullied into answering questions they aren’t comfortable answering,” she said. “For my children, this was presented as a test, not a survey.”

Superintendent Ken Folks said after the meeting that results from the survey had already been destroyed and leaders would reach out to parents to have conversations about their concerns.

“I’ll certainly meet with them and listen to their concerns,” Folks said. “East Allen schools follow FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and we’re dedicated to making sure our students’ rights are respected.”

jcrothers@jg.net

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