Print Friendly, PDF & Email

autismsociety:  Can the school district deny a parent from wanting to place a tracking device on their autistic child that is prone to wandering for safety reasons? Parent wants the child to wear it to school and the superintendent of the school district is refusing and stating that the use of it will violate privacy and prompt other parents to want to send electronic devices with their children to school.

Leave a Reply

12 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
Notify of

My son went missing from school just recently. They stopped the trains, had 10 sherrifs and the captain a search dog helicopter and everyone who was home with in a mile radius came out of their homes to search. Even the kids in the regular school gave up their recess and asked if they could help
It was the longest most agonizing 2 hours of my life. He’s 11 vocab of a 1 year old and absolutely no sense of danger.
I told my roomate I almost got anglesense a while back but could not afford it and really wish I had it.
News story says he hid in a van and locked all the doors. But in reality he loves going bye bye and I owned a van. So he climbed in thinking he would go bye bye. The child locks were on so he got stuck for 2 hours until the owner came out. . worst day of my life.


In California, “confidential communication” is defined as “any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes communications made in a public gathering or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded.”

California case law states that if a conversation is in a classroom with others present, then the Penal Code section would not apply because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a classroom setting


From a place of love, recording the classroom can improve our kids lives and their families lives. I long to understand how to teach and get through to my nonverbal kid and what better way than by watching the specialists interact w/ my kid every day. Generalizing teaching to the home, from the school is my main reason for wanting a recording device. They do not allow parents to volunteer in his public school classroom because they believe it disrupts/distracts our Autistic kids. He is only 6yr’s old and the classroom size is 6. If all the kids families, principal, and teacher consented to being recorded, wouldn’t we be able to record a classroom?


If a school has an issue with a parent of a special needs child of any kind wearing a tracker, what is the school hiding or protecting its staff for? If school staff is talking to another student or staff member about something confidential or sensitive than it should not be in a public area anyhow. My child cannot speak or communicate how his day went or the things that happened during the day – good or bad. A “normal” child can come home and alert the parent that a student or staff member had done something wrong. My child cannot do that and we can only rely on short notes about his day. If a school does not want to have a GPS tracker with a listen in feature in the school, then they should consider having cameras in the classroom with no audio.


I agree


They absolutely cannot deny this if it is medically necessary and you have a child who is known to elope or wander. Our daughters school was very defensive when we first sent the device attached to the back of our daughters pants. Our daughters MD had written a letter stating it was medically necessary. Some children cannot tolerate wearing one of the bracelet type so this type is necessary. The listening in option can be turned off, or there are other options that do not have the listening in. This is in no way is a privacy issue, if you are a parent volunteer who supervises recess, attends field trips,or volunteers in the classroom you hear and see everything that goes on.The more defensive a school is, the more of a red flag it is in my perspective.


So, you’d have to disclose that your child has a tracking device on their body??


Does the school also not allow any tablets or cell phones? They have GPS locating stuff on them, there’s are apps that allow family tracking, finding iPhones, etc. Doubt their school has a band on that, so they have no ground to stand on with their reasoning.


As every parent knows, the safety of their children is always their largest concern. Good thing the school which my daughter is attending has none of this restriction and by the way the GPS tracker im using right now for 7months already is Trackimo and i really works great.


It’s funny to me because Time Warner Cable lets you track the technician on the way to your house via GPS, but you have a kid who is a flight risk and the school won’t let you track him to keep him safe.

I would file due process and let the school district explain why they’re afraid you might use it to monitor what services are provided or what goes on in his classroom. What are they trying to hide?


Christine, unfortunately there are too many dishonest people out there. Schools are not hiding a thing, however, we do have an obligation to protect the students and families we service. It sounds like you have an ax to grind with public education.


John, I bellieve that Christine is a concerned parent. This has nothing to do with an ax to grind. Yes, there are a lot of dishonest people, however there are just as many abuse cases with public education too. If I have a means to protect my child than that is my priority.


The privacy issues is the ability to remote activate sound/listening/recording and some have remote access video (AngelSense is one brand that has remote activation listening) those who prevailed had to sign a contract to not remotely activate the microphone in school. If there was an incident of elopement then the device obviously should be activated. There are onlinegroups telling parents to get these devices not for wandering children but to spy on classrooms! (Which ruins it for legitimate needs)


I don’t see how a GPS device creates a privacy issue. It’s not an audio/video recorder. Is the school district proposing an alternative, like a 1:1 aide? What about a smart watch?

Our school district is far from perfect, but they agreed to my son using a live scribe smart pen to record lectures and notes. I would try to market it as something that could makes their jobs easier. Maybe they fear you’ll use it against them?


It is a felony to record a conversation, the person listening, is not part of. Many medical issues are addressed in the classroom. This is a violation of HIPA. If the device can be disabled, not an issue. Nobody is hiding anything. OCR has field days with schools for violating students privacy rights. Don’t blame the schools, blame the system.


I have Angel Sense and I have been assured by the company that the audio is not recored. There is no felony. This is not a wire tap or bug. I am very familar with HIPAA and if your in a class room discussing medical conditions with other students present then your in violation. I have never been in a class room where medical history of students or teachers has been openly discussed with others present. If you are an educator then you and your school certainly have something to hide if these divices are not accepted.


@jason but their is nothing protecting the school will find away to take it out that’s what they’re doing with us Angel sense can disable it but nothing can protect us to keep it on with out breaking the law. I forget what law it is but they send me a letter straight from the distric.


We have students with medical emergency episodes in the classroom while other students are present and a medical code is called to the office. Info about students is discussed To get students help ASAP and classroom cleared if possible.
While medical emergency is going on, a student with An Angelsense may or may not be using the device to listen in. There is no way to monitor privacy violations unless a parent mentions an incident, which then becomes a firestorm which by law I must report.


Schools have to be concerned with not only HIPPA but FERPA. It is FERPA that that the device violates by allowing outsiders to listen in.
FERPA regulates education records, nothing more.
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal statute. The purposes of FERPA are twofold:
*to ensure that parents have access to their children’s educational records
*to protect the privacy rights of parents and children by limiting access to these records without parental consent

Read more about FERPA.
Use the search box on the blog or any Wrightslaw page to learn more about “FERPA,” “confidentiality,” “privacy,” “educational records”


Thank you, Jason! My point exactly!


I understand what you are saying, this system does not record (save) any conversation.
Kids with open lines on cell phones are able to do the same thing.


You are incorrect, it actually varies state by state. It is not illegal in my state to record without the other person’s knowledge.

To the argument about a code being called for a student, isn’t that a stretch? It’s a public school, kids talk… nothing is actually private. You think students in that classroom don’t tell their parents what happens at school?


I’d sure like an explanation as to how the GPS device violates anyone’s privacy. Does it have any capability of doing anything other than reporting its location? Also, last I checked there is no expectation of privacy (for the students) on the campus.

I have a garden variety GPS for hiking that is sufficiently accurate to figure out which room it is in. So my guess is that you’d probably be able to figure out when the child is, or is not, leaving his/her classroom to get services from the SLP, OT, or similar. My school district always kept that information tightly controlled for obvious reasons, so they probably want to keep it out of the campus for that reason.