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Monday, November 11, 2013

Important summary from Superintendent Mitchell of concerns with "data creep" including sample resolution and opt-out letter to inBloom Inc.

Dr. Ken Mitchell, Superintendent of S. Orangetown
A growing number of Superintendents and school boards are on record, protesting Commissioner King's plan to share an extensive amount of personal student data with inBloom Inc., and via inBloom with vendors -- without parent consent. 
Many districts have now returned unspent Race to the Top funds, are refusing to sign up for the data dashboards that will be linked to the inBloom cloud.  (We have a list here; please let us know at if there are additions or corrections.) Some of them are also writing directly to inBloom's CEO, Iwan Streichenberg, citing a provision in the state contract allowing district opt out and demanding their student data be deleted.  
Below is an explanation of some of the many risks involved in sharing all this highly sensitive  data with inBloom, as well as unanswered questions about the "data creep", with more and more personal highly student demanded by the State Education Department.  The summary was prepared under the direction of Dr. Ken Mitchell, the Superintendent of South Orangetown and President of the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents. 
The document also contains sample school board resolutions, and letters to the State Education Department and to inBloom Inc., that other districts may choose to adopt. The letter to inBloom asks for a quick response, so that districts can "consider next steps" if their request to have the data deleted is not complied with.
NYSED officials have claimed that one of the advantages of inBloom is the ease of sending student transcripts to SUNY and other colleges, straight from the data portal.  Yet, as Mitchell asks below, what if a student was suspended after being involved in a fight in ninth grade?  This is the sort of information that the state has said will be uploaded into the inBloom cloud and included in the data dashboards; yet it is NOT information that is ordinarily shared with colleges -- not to mention the wide range of disability and health information that will be uploaded as well.
Here is another passage from the sample inBloom letter, about the importance of parental consent:
According to the document, as of last week, over 40 of 77 Lower Hudson Superintendents (in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties) never opted in, have opted out or have a pending BOE resolution to opt out of the data dashboards.
Dr. Mitchell is clearly a very courageous man, as evidenced by a well-known incident in 2009 when he wrestled an angry gun-toting parent to the ground in his office.  His leadership in fighting the "data creep" by the NY State Education Department and inBloom Inc., funded with $100 million from the powerful Gates Foundation, is yet more evidence of this trait.

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