Posts Tagged 'privacy'

Report Card in Apopka

By Derek Newton
Communications Director

Apopka is a small community outside Orlando that is on the verge of being consumed by Central Florida sprawl and suburban planning but its agrarian roots and the impact of the Hispanic community are easy to see.

ACLU Policy and Advocacy Counsel Julie Ebenstein addresses the media in Apopka, FL on May 23, 2012

A stone’s throw from Apopka High School is the HOPE CommUnity Center which, “is dedicated to empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through Education, Advocacy and Spiritual Growth.”

As a landmark for immigrant families, it was a perfect setting for yesterday’s ACLU of Florida press conference at which we issued a report card on the unsettling practice of school districts not making clear that Social Security numbers (SSN) are not required for enrollment in public schools. In spite of federal law requiring it, many school districts, including several in Central Florida, are still asking for SSN on enrollment forms without stating the information is voluntary.

The result is that immigrant families may have to choose between sending kids to school and what they think could be in inquiry into the citizenship status of those children or other family members.

 It’s would be a tragic choice especially considering no such choice is necessary. Since schools don’t need a SSN to enroll, there is no reason to put parents and families through that difficulty.

After surveying all 67 Florida districts, the ACLU found nearly half of those districts – 30 in all – received a grade of “C” or lower in how they ask for and handle SSN on enrollment forms. Eleven districts, including a handful in Central Florida, failed outright by making no effort whatsoever to comply with federal law on the use of SSN.  

Based on our report card and press conference, several districts including Orange County (which received an “F”), said they would re-examine their enrollment form for next school year.


Cartoon: Rick Scott, the Constitution and Drug Testing

Derek Newton
Communications Director, ACLU of Florida

 (Cartoon by Bill Sanders of Sanders cartoon-commentary)

This cartoon helps capture the struggle between Governor Scott and the state of Florida and the ACLU of Florida over drug testing.

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from being subjected to a government search without reasonable suspicion. It’s one of the core tenets of our justice system.

That’s why the ACLU of Florida has fought so hard to stop the suspicionless drug testing of Floridians being pushed by Governor Scott and the Legislature. In the past year they have passed laws and issued orders that would subject tens of thousands of Floridians to government drug testing.

In late 2011, the ACLU of Florida represented Orlando resident Luis Lebron in a challenge to the state law requiring testing for applications for temporary assistance. Lebron, a Navy veteran, single father, caretaker of his disabled mother, and full-time University of Central Florida, succeeded in getting the law blocked by a federal court in Orlando. Governor Scott has appealed the decision.

Just two weeks ago, the ACLU of Florida went to federal court in Miami on behalf of AFSCME – the state’s largest public employee union – to challenge the Governor’s order requiring suspicionless testing for state workers under his authority. A decision in that challenge is expected at any time.

And in the final days of this Legislative Session, lawmakers are considering yet another attempt to force government drug testing on state workers.

When Floridians are subjected to invasive, stigmatizing government searches, the ACLU of Florida will stand up to protect the rights of people like Luis Lebron, state workers, and everyone else subjected to these unconstitutional policies.