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Monday, October 20, 2014

With inBloom out, student records are safe (for now)

By Maya Rajamani
Posted

InBloom is out.

Last week, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced its decision to part ways with the controversial data storage company, after legislation in the New York State budget prohibited the state from providing student data to inBloom or similar vendors.

Dean Parker, the second vice president of District 10’s Community Education Council (CEC) and parent of two students at AmPark Neighborhood School, lauded the decision, saying too many parents had concerns about the company’s loyalty to students and their privacy. 

“Data is worth money and yet it’s just going to be handed to an organization,” he said. “Was it always going to stay a non-profit? Clearly not.” 

The Atlanta-based inBloom would have stored student data including suspension records, grades, health records and economic status records. Throughout the partnership, many educators voiced their fears that information stored in inBloom’s cloud could find its way into the hands of third party vendors, who could use the information to students’ detriment.

“As required by statute, we will not store any student data with inBloom and we have directed inBloom to securely delete the non-identifiable data that has been stored,” NYSED spokesman Tom Dunn said in a statement. 

But for parents and activists who have fought against NYSED’s partnership with the company, the victory is a tentative one. Lauren Carmona, the president of Robert Christen School (P.S. 81)’s Parent Association, said that while she considers the decision a win for advocates, parents would continue to be vigilant in the fight to protect student privacy.

“Student privacy, data sharing, and the state laws surrounding those issues are still very murky waters,” she said. “While we will enjoy this victory, we will all be paying very close attention to what may come next.”

Despite its decision, NYSED stated that it will continue to seek out new ways to store student data, in compliance with Race to the Top obligations and the enacted budget. 

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