MA Public School Kindergarten Registration - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 03-06-2013, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am in the process of registering my child for public kindergarten in Massachusetts and have been surprised by the very personal questions on the registration forms. Does anyone know of an accurate resource that will direct me to what I am legally required to answer vs. what they may want to know but I am not legally obligated to answer? Any help is appreciated!
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#2 of 12 Old 03-06-2013, 08:50 PM
 
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Lish, my older child goes to public school in MA, and the questions on the registration forms were aimed at establishing his age, vaccination status, and place of residence.  They were short forms, the PITA was providing supporting doc for residency.  The district we live in does no pre-kindergarten screening, so the requests were pretty basic.

 

So my question is:  are the forms you are looking at and having issues with registration forms, or are they screening forms intended to help educators evaluate your child or make decisions about classroom placement, etc.? 

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#3 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply. Our school district does have screening prior to the start of kindergarten. I have no doubt that the administration feels these questions have some relevance in evaluating my child but I feel that certain questions are beyond what they have a right to know. For example they inquire about my pregnancy and delivery, inquire about siblings ages, personalities, relationship with prospective student, ask questions about the other adults my child lives/regularly interacts with, including ages, employment, etc. As I was filling them out yesterday I paused and read through the rest of the forms & got aggravated. They don't include any privacy information in the package letting me know how this information will be used, who it will be shared with or how it will be stored. There is one cover sheet that indicates that I am to fill out every form completely and return it by the specified date or my child will not be scheduled for screening & will not be registered for kindergarten. I am curious what information they legally have a right to and what information falls into the 'none of your damn business' category.
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#4 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 10:38 AM
 
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There's more categories then legally entitled and myob - there is a legitimate middle ground where giving them certain information is in your child's best interest. I am pretty sure, however, that they're legally obligated to register your child for school even if they don't know the birth story.

I would be tempted to call up and fuss. Ask the questions about student privacy and who can access info. I'd also leave some blanks.

The adults in home question sounds to me like one of the state forms about free or reduced price lunch eligibility. I typically fill out just enough to make it clear we aren't eligible and call it a day. I have sometimes provided a lot more info then that for purposes of explaining our child's family structure and support network - but that's a different form.

I think the school has a need to know about allergies, diagnosed disabilities or delays, and vax status. I provide reports of annual checkups. I've given the school a rundown on my health issues, and how we've chosen to discuss those with the kids. I gave them a list of people authorized to pick up my kid from school. They know how to get in touch with me. That seems like enough.
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#5 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 12:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your reply. I have already provided them the state mandated (legally required) medical examination and immunization form which addresses any developmental or physical issues a child entering public school might have. Our child will not be receiving any need based services. I have no doubt the position of the school is that whatever they deem worthy of asking is in my childs best interest for me to answer. I am a person who is not inclined to answer anyone's personal questions unless they have a legitimate right to that information. As a starting point I will inquire about their privacy policy.
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#6 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 12:32 PM
 
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eyesroll.gif

 

I have a child in the MA public preschool system.

 

Those questions are mostly designed for learning demographics of the area.

 

The employment and other adult questions helps the state decide how many free lunches the school district is entitled to, which helps the school district determine school lunch eligibility.

 

The questions about siblings and how the siblings interact are to help determine when the next child in the family will be entering kindergarten and if there is any reason to conduct outreach about programs available to the siblings --- my town has a program for 3 and 4 year olds to foster kindergarten readiness. People come to your home and help your kids learn ABCs and count to ten and stuff. It's a good a program --- we don't need to take advantage of it at the moment, but it's a huge initiative by our public school system. Some of the answers will also indicate if you should receive information about services for your other children like EI, etc., as well as to help teachers determine if interventions need to be used in school ---- for example, a child who never talks in public v.s. a child can't talk. Clearly the former is shy and nothing wrong with that. The second might need some help.
 

Your paranoia is outlandish.

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#7 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 01:17 PM
 
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My kid doesn't receive any need based services either, and I see some of your concerns about privacy.  However, I have found, in terms of information, the more I give to my child's teachers, the more I get.  My child's kindergarten teacher has a ton of information about our family.  It's made my life a lot easier for her to have that info.  I didn't give it to her for *her* sake.  if the school had asked for it upfront, I'd probably have sent in a typed letter.  Since the urban school system we live in doesn't do that, and doesn't provide contact info for teachers more then about a week before the start of the school year, I wound up calling, nagging, and eventually setting an appointment to come see her in person.

 

Fundamentally, you want open lines of communication with the school, and you want to make sure that desire comes across when you're talking to them.  So, absolutely, call.  Ask what the purpose of this form is.  Ask what the limitations on use of and access to this form are, because you are concerned about student privacy (but be aware that this is an area covered by law, and they're not going to be just messing around with it).  Ask politely.  Keep it light.  And then know that it's okay to leave some blanks - they really aren't going to have all the information they ask for about every kid.

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#8 of 12 Old 03-07-2013, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, MeepyCat. If these were questions being asked of me directly by my child's teacher I would have less heartburn about it. Instead, this is a typed up questionnaire that, after passing through the registrars office, will then presumably be passed to the school counselors prior to the screening and from there, who knows? GoestoShow, I am well aware that most people in this day and age are conditioned to give up all rights to privacy. I value my privacy & that of my children. I am also aware that Massachusetts uses their annual state census records, not kindergarten registration forms, to allocate education funds to school districts and to plan for future spending.
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#9 of 12 Old 03-11-2013, 07:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lish View Post

Thanks, MeepyCat. If these were questions being asked of me directly by my child's teacher I would have less heartburn about it. Instead, this is a typed up questionnaire that, after passing through the registrars office, will then presumably be passed to the school counselors prior to the screening and from there, who knows? GoestoShow, I am well aware that most people in this day and age are conditioned to give up all rights to privacy. I value my privacy & that of my children. I am also aware that Massachusetts uses their annual state census records, not kindergarten registration forms, to allocate education funds to school districts and to plan for future spending.

 

I am never going to cease rolling my eyes at you and people like you.

 

It's not an issue of privacy to share information that is HELPFUL to the school system to HELP your children. The teachers don't collect it because they have other stuff to do. So there are professionals who collect it and collate it properly and distribute it to the appropriate channels. At some point, your kid's teacher will review it --- in part. Not all that information gets passed off to the teachers. Some of it is used by therapists and social workers and the district office --- the teachers don't determine who gets free lunch, the district office does. The district office just tells the teachers and cafeteria staff which kids get free lunch.

 

It's a practical matter of distribution of appropriate information to appropriate parties by centrally collecting it and having someone manage that stuff.

 

If you don't like it, send your kids to private school ---- where there is a lot less privacy. Public schools are infinitely better on privacy rights than just about any other type of school, except maybe higher education schools.

 

My husband is a teacher in the MA system, too. Privacy is taken seriously. Very seriously.

 

You are unreasonably paranoid. I'd consider addressing that. Because when your kid goes to college --- it's a lot more information about your finances your life story that is going to need to be sent off to numerous institutions. You'll have to send *gasp* TWO YEARS of completed tax returns, an accounting of every cent, information on your employers for the past three years if you've changed employers, previous addresses, etc. So if you have privacy issues like this in KINDERGARTEN, it's only going to be a nightmare for you by the time your child gets into college and you want any type of financial aid.

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#10 of 12 Old 03-12-2013, 04:40 AM
 
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I think the more they know about your kid the better.  It gives them lots of points to work off of in coming to understand your child.  Your child at home is not the same person as your child at school, but if the staff (teachers, aides, admin, etc) can catch glimpses of how you see your child it can only help. 

 

I love that our preschool does a home visit and the teacher meets the child on the child's turf for the first time.  Rather than find it invasive, I find it inclusive.   It would be much easier for them to just pick a time and have all the students come to the school and meet the teacher there.  I think you'll find school difficult and tiresome if you aren't willing to work with them in helping your child grow and learn.


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#11 of 12 Old 06-24-2013, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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An article from The Valley Advocate about what is being done with public school childrens personal information: http://www.valleyadvocate.com/article.cfm?aid=16813
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#12 of 12 Old 07-14-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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I noticed on that our registration forms, some of them have a "this form will become part of your child's permanent record, if you'd like to include information off-record, please attach a separate piece of paper". I found that strange, but I appreciated knowing that. So far, I've felt that my son's teacher's have truly wanted to get to know him as a whole child, so I've been very forthcoming with information...anything that I felt could be useful in creating a good experience for him and for the classroom as a whole.


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