Johanna Garcia, a New York City public school parent and president of her district’s Community Education Council, has lodged a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Education about the city Department of Education’s policy of turning over student records to charter schools for their marketing and recruitment campaigns.

Here is the press release.

Question: we have heard for years about charter school waiting lists, about their need for more seats. Why do they need to spend so much effort and money on recruitment and marketing if these wait lists actually exist? Why do they need to extract students names and addresses (and more) from the public schools if they have wait lists?

Leonie Haimson writes about Johanna Garcia’s complaint here:

“In her complaint, Johanna questions whether charter operators are receiving students’ test scores, grades, English learner and/or disability status from DOE in addition to their contact information, based on her personal experience with the selective charter recruitment of her three children. More evidence for this possibility is also implied by an email that I received from the DOE Chief Privacy Officer Joe Baranello, in response to my inquiry about the legal status of these disclosures.

“DOE has voluntarily supplied the contact information for students and families without parental consent to Success Academy and other charter schools since at least 2006 and perhaps before, as revealed in emails FOILed by reporter Juan Gonzalez in 2010 and cited below.

“As Eva Moskowitz wrote Klein in December 2007, she needed this information to “mail 10-12 times to elementary and preK families” so that she could grow her “market share.” Attention has been paid recently to Moskowitz’ current goal of expanding to 100 charter schools, and her aggressive expansion plans will be facilitated by SUNY’s recent agreement to change their regulations, exempting her from teacher certification rules and allowing her to hire teachers with just a few weeks of training to staff her schools.

“Just as critical to her plans for rapid expansion is her ability to send multiple mailings to families for recruiting purposes. In 2010, it was estimated that Success Academy spent $1.6 million in the 2009-2010 school year alone on recruitment and promotion costs, including mailings and ads, amounting to $1300 for each new enrolled student. The need to do a massive amount of outreach to fill seats is intensified by the fact that only half of the students who win Success Academy admissions lotteries actually enroll in her schools, according to a new study.

“In stark contrast to DOE’s voluntary and continuing practice of helping charter schools recruit students by providing them with the personal information of NYC public school students, the Nashville school board has recently refused to provide their students’ contact information to charter schools, prompting a lawsuit filed against them by the State Education Commissioner. The Commissioner cites a Tennessee law passed by the Legislature in August that she claims requires the district to share student contact information with charters.

“In response, Nashville attorneys argue that the release of information to charter operators for the purpose of marketing their schools to families is forbidden by FERPA, as this would be a commercial use of the data. Last spring, a Nashville charter school agreed to pay parents $2.2 million to settle a class action lawsuit against them for spamming them with text messages urging them to enroll their children in the school.”

Open the post to read it in full and to follow the links.