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EXCLUSIVE! Times Argus interview with "anonymous" student privacy advocate.


Despite the challenges of living off-grid, and with no mention of a publication deadline, Chuck managed to respond to a Times Argus interview request in less than 24 hours. Unfortunately, the breathless pace of central Vermont journalism couldn't wait that long. So, as a public service, the full text of that unused interview appears below. Says Chuck:

Obviously, I value my own privacy along with the privacy of our children. Although I don't seek publicity and am not a public figure, I'm also not an "anonymous" shadow. I've been visible on local television, have participated in over 100 hours of public meetings with five different school boards, and have discussed the school privacy issue individually with hundreds of local voters.

Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:21:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Times Argus article
From: Chuck Davin <>
To: Evan Popp <>

Hello Evan,

My name is "Chuck" not "Charles."  Thanks for using email, as phone
communication is a challenge for me.  It must be a challenge for you
working for the Times Argus while also finishing up your high school

The best source of information about this initiative is the website  Many of your questions may be answered there.
Below, I've tried to answer your questions in ways not already addressed
by the website.


On Tue, 2014-02-25 at 14:40 -0500, Evan Popp wrote: 
> Hi, this is Evan Popp and I'm working for the Times Argus Newspaper.
> I'm inquiring about the respect4students initiative on the agenda for
> the towns of Berlin, Calais, Middlesex, and Worcester regarding the
> issue of child privacy in school. I am trying to reach Charles Davin,
> to ask some questions for the article. If you would rather respond via
> email, you can email me back at this address, or you can call me at
> 802-477-4012 from 9-5. I'll list some of my questions below if you
> want to answer them there. Thanks for your time!
> 1. What instigated your desire to submit this article into the agendas
> of the towns listed above?

When I discovered in September 2012 that our children's personal
information had been surrendered to an outside corporation in Minnesota,
I began a continuous collaboration with the U-32 school board and its
policy committee to adopt a policy that would keep student information
here at home and limit any future sharing. After the board announced in
August 2013 that they were not going to consider adopting such a policy,
it seemed that the issue deserved wider community attention.

The privacy resolution is being considered in multiple towns because
the U-32 school board comprises members from all five towns of the
WCSU school district.  Moreover, policy action by one or more of the
independent elementary school boards will not only secure
child privacy in that town but could also catalyze broader change.

> 2. What was the biggest reason for your concern over child privacy in
> schools?

School attendance is compulsory, and children do not give up their basic
rights at the schoolhouse door.  Courts have consistently held that
student rights are limited only when their exercise would disrupt
education for other students or pose a physical danger.  Privacy is
among those rights.

> 3. Do you have any hard evidence that U-32 or any of the other schools
> are actually using student information in a dangerous way?

As far as I know, teachers and staff at our local schools use
information about students to direct and inform their instruction.
That's hardly "dangerous."  The danger will come later when all that
personal information is shared (one way or another) with outsiders,
whose motives and uses of that information are practically beyond our

> 3. Is your concern based off all the stories in the news recently
> above privacy leaks, or with the NSA situation a year ago?

Corporate privacy breaches, cyber-criminals, and government spying are
not last year's story but a serious, ongoing threat.  As personal
information is more widely shared, opportunities for loss or abuse are
greatly increased.  And the likelihood of our hearing about such
breaches is greatly reduced.  We don't need to share our children's
personal information beyond the local school in order to educate them

> 4. What do you think the resolutions chances of passing are?

During the petition drive, a high proportion of voters supported putting
the resolution on the Town Meeting agenda and seemed surprised and
concerned about sharing student information with outsiders.

> 5. How will you be pitching this to other town residents at Town
> Meeting Day?

Our school boards need to adopt a strong policy that keeps our
children's personal information stored here in the local school district
and strictly limits sharing outside the district.  By existing policy,
student information belongs primarily to students and shouldn't be
shared by school administrators except as required by law.  Moreover,
such sharing exposes our children to dramatically increased risk of
privacy loss and future information abuse.

> 6. Why did you specifically introduce the resolution this year?

See question #1 above.

> 7. Why isn't the resolution appearing in East Montpelier?

Dozens of signatures were collected towards getting child privacy on the
agenda in East Montpelier, but weather and other factors prevented
collecting enough before the legal deadline.

> 8. Does the resolution apply to just U-32 or other elementary schools
> as well?

Policy at each school is made independently by that school's board.
The resolution considered in each town asks both the U-32 board and the
local elementary school board to adopt a strong student privacy policy.

> 9. What would the resolution actually do if passed?

If passed, the resolution would send a very clear message to
our school boards that voters want a policy that keeps our children's
personal information here in the district and strictly limits sharing
with outsiders.

> 10. Anything else I should know....

Please read the website.

Voters might like to know where school board candidates stand on the
proposed privacy policy before they cast their ballots.  So far, most
school board members have been resolutely silent.  See "scorecard" page
on website.

> Thanks for your time.
> Evan Popp  

Follow up:

Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:28:52 -0500
Subject: Re: Times Argus article
From: Evan Popp <>

Thanks Chuck. Unfortunately I won't be able to use this information in the
article as it was published in today's paper. I did however, find the
website and as you said was able to find much of the information about the
resolution there. Thanks for your help and I apoligize about getting your
first name wrong-