Huntsville City Schools denies politician's request for informat - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Huntsville City Schools denies politician's request for information into social media program

An Alabama Senator is looking to find out more about the Huntsville City School system's social media observation program. (Source: WAFF) An Alabama Senator is looking to find out more about the Huntsville City School system's social media observation program. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - An Alabama State Senator says Huntsville City Schools has turned down his request for more information about the system's social media observation program.

Some have been highly critical of the Students Against Fear, or SAFE, program since the public first learned about it several weeks ago. 

A district spokesperson confirmed the district started checking students' Facebook pages and other sites at the beginning of the year after receiving tips. The spokesperson said the program has led to disciplinary action against about 20 students.

Senator Paul Sanford said he reached out to the district after some of his constituents contacted him with concerns about the program.

Emails between Sanford and Huntsville City School Board President David Blair show Sanford formally making the request for all expulsions related to the SAFE program and includes a note not to provide personal information of students. 

Blair responded back he doesn't feel comfortable with the request due to the sensitive nature of the expulsions. Sanford said he's followed up with the district since the original request and he doesn't understand why the district won't give him what he's asked for.

“To me it seems like I'm asking pretty general information and it's more about the procedures they have in place to see what they're doing and how they're doing it so the average parent can gain a sense of comfort in the program,” said Sanford.

Blair said there's several reasons why the district denied the senator's request for more information about SAFE. Blair said the request could violate privacy laws because the SAFE program documents contain names and other identifiable information. 

The school board president added the district would take on a large economic expense if they released the files to the public and redacted the personal information.

“It is a paperwork intensive process going through, getting all the information and making sure we've got everything right,” said Blair. “We would have to have our lawyers go through each one of those documents and make sure there's not anything identifiable. That costs the system a lot of money.”

Senator Sanford said he'll continue to put in requests until he gets the information he's asked for.

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