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Florida Launches Student Data Tracking System Amid Privacy Concerns

Green lines of computer code run horizontally on a black screen.
Markus Spiske

The Florida Department of Education has launched its school safety database in an attempt to track students who may become threats to themselves or to schools. The announcement comes after nearly three dozen organizations, including the ACLU of Florida expressed concerns over the type of information that will be collected.

Student social media posts, mental health and discipline records, and information from the Departments of Juvenile Justice and Children and Family Services will be part of the state's new student tracking system. That worries some 33 organizations that recently urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to reconsider the plan. 

“The one thing that’s been shown over and over again to prevent these sort of attacks is someone speaking up to ask for help. And the only way kids are going to do that is if they feel safe to ask for help for themselves or for a friend," said the ACLU of Florida's Michelle Morton. 

The Florida Department of Education announced Thursday that it has finished the database. The system was one of many recommendations from the group established to find ways to shore up school security following last year's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

"The new Florida Schools Safety Portal (FSSP) enacts the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission’s recommendation to improve access to timely, complete and accurate information by authorizing school threat assessment teams to swiftly identify, assess and provide intervention services for individuals whose behavior may pose a threat to themselves or others," DOE wrote in a press release. 

The database was supposed to be complete late last year but was delayed.