Minutes before the end of the school day on October 9, community activist Charlene Lee set up with a poster in the MVHS student parking lot. The poster had accusations about a senior’s father conspiring with another person to lie to the Milpitas Police Department about assaulting women. To maintain his anonymity, we will refer to the senior as Charles.
“We cannot encourage [assaulting] woman in church, and [the] police shouldn’t always falsify police reports,” Lee said. “It happens a lot.”
The poster directly named Charles and his father as well as his home address, which, according to Assistant Principal Andrew Goldenkranz, is a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
“Minor student information is protected under federal law called ‘FERPA’ and that just has to do with privacy rights. That’s part of our obligation — to protect student records of all kinds,” Goldenkranz said. “Not only do I have a legal problem with that, but I also have an ethical problem with it because protecting students is our first responsibility.”
A student told Goldenkranz about the incident and he went to the front of the school to take away two of Lee’s posters lying on the ground, which contained information about other members of the community. Six to seven minutes later, Goldenkranz was notified that Lee was in the student parking lot with Charles’ information on a poster.
“It’s pretty clear that it’s not really a school issue so her grievance has to do with politics happening outside the school,” Goldenkranz said. “That’s really unfortunate that she’s involving people in ways that we think are really inappropriate.”
As students drove out of the student parking lot, many saw Lee with her poster. Students who heard about Lee’s poster even walked to the student parking lot to see or take pictures of the accusations that the poster made against the Charles’ father.
“I expected it. Nothing really surprised me,” Charles said. “I don’t know the facts either and I think it should be taken with a grain of salt. I also don’t really like how she’s doing this because I do feel harassed by her coming to my school and posting [my address].”
Charles had a free seventh period and never actually saw Lee with the poster himself. However, he describes how he had been expecting it, as his dad warned him that Lee said she would do this weeks earlier.
“[Students who saw the poster] should really consider the possible difference in [facts]… before making a verdict on what actually happened because to my understanding, stuff did not happen in that way,” Charles said. “I also know for sure that my dad wasn’t directly involved with this.”
“I don’t really want this to blow up because it’s not like a huge thing,” he said. “I don’t see the need for it to blow up.”
Charles describes how his family was family friends with Lee through church and didn’t want this incident to get out of hand.
After being notified about Lee for the second time, Goldenkranz arrived at the MVHS student parking lot with financial specialist Calvin Wong, who spoke to her about having the student’s address on the poster.
“I need to be clear that whatever issue you’re motivated by, you cannot come here and post the student’s address,” Goldenkranz said. “You are welcome, you have total rights to call the police […] Thank you very much.”
Without any resistance, Lee left MVHS with the poster in hand. According to Goldenkranz, MVHS administration notified the Sheriff’s Police Department and are in close communication with them.
Additional Reporting by Mallika Singh, Om Khandekar and Ruth Feng.
A letter to the editors has been written in response to this article.