December 19, 2013

Speaker Silver, Assembly Democrats Call on State Education Department to Suspend Plan for Student Data Sharing

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Education Committee Chair Catherine Nolan today released a letter to State Education Commissioner John King expressing serious concerns about a plan to share sensitive student data with an outside vendor. The letter, endorsed by Speaker Silver, was signed by Nolan and nearly 50 Assembly Majority colleagues and requests that the State Education Department (SED) withhold sharing data with InBloom, the vendor selected by the department to collect information on New York's school children.

"It is our job to protect New York's children. In this case, that means protecting their personally identifiable information from falling into the wrong hands," said Silver. "Until we are confident that this information can remain protected, the plan to share student data with InBloom must be put on hold."

"After receiving moving and credible testimony at a recent hearing, the Assembly Majority has serious concerns about the potential flaws of the SED's plan to share student data and their ability to protect student privacy. We feel compelled to question this plan and we strongly believe that student information should not be shared with InBloom at this time," said Nolan.

The letter comes on the heels of a hearing in November on the issue as well as two important pieces of legislation passed by the Assembly earlier this year, A.7872-A (Nolan) and A.6059-A (O'Donnell), to address ongoing concerns related to the distribution of personally identifiable student information.

School districts receiving Race to the Top funds are expected to participate in the EngageNY Portal, an informational instruction system recently established by SED. The Portal will allow educators, administrators, parents and students to access a variety of additional educational materials, resources and student information. To make this service available, SED has contracted with InBloom, a third-party vendor which collects and stores student information released by SED and school districts. This includes information such as demographics, parental contacts, out-of-school suspension records, course outcomes and state assessment scores.


Click here to view copy of letter to Commissioner King.