Privacy Concerns Nix New York Student-Data Plan

The state planned to store some data, including grades, attendance, and disciplinary issues, in a single encryption-protected database accessible through the Interne

Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014  |  Updated 9:06 PM EDT
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NYC Parents Sue Over Plan to Share Student Data

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NYC Parents Sue Over Plan to Share Student Data

A dozen New York City parents have filed a lawsuit against the state Board of Regents and Education Commissioner John King. The issue: Parents want to stop the state from releasing personal information about their children to a private company that compiles student data. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo reports.
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New York has reversed course to use an Atlanta-based company to store student data for parents and officials to use to track student progress, after the plan triggered privacy concerns and a legal challenge.

"We will not store any student data with inBloom, and we have directed inBloom to securely delete all the non-identifiable data that has been stored," a statement Wednesday from state Education Department spokesman Dennis Tomkins said.

The move follows this week's passage of the state budget, which included a provision that New York "halt its relationship with inBloom and consider alternative paths to accomplish the goals of increased data transparency and analytics."

"We respect New York state's decision to provide additional local control, and for also addressing privacy," a statement from inBloom provided to The Associated Press said. "We at inBloom continue to believe that our technology has the unique ability to empower teachers in ways that can dramatically improve learning for students.

"All New York student data has been removed from inBloom," the statement said.

InBloom was founded in 2013 with $100 million in grant money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corp. The technology drew early interest from several states, but New York was the only one fully involved.

The state planned to store some data, including grades, attendance, and disciplinary issues, in a single encryption-protected database accessible through the Internet. The technology was seen as a tool to personalize instruction, track student progress and let parents see how their children were doing.

But despite assurances, parents, administrators and many lawmakers worried the personal information could be subject to data-mining, used for marketing or sought by colleges during competitive admissions processes.

A group of New York City public school parents filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in November, claiming that disclosing identifiable student data without parental consent violates state privacy laws.

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