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NYC Parents Sue State Over Student Data Collection

Class Size Matters screenshot Nov. 14, 2013
Class Size Matters screenshot Nov. 14, 2013
Written by Lanning Taliaferro

A group of parents opposed to the way New York state is collecting, storing and using student information in its Race to the Topprogram has sued the Education Department.

The lawsuit was filed Nov. 13 in State Supreme Court by Pitta & Giblin LLP against Education Commissioner John King and the Board of Regents in NY State Supreme Court on behalf of twelve NYC parents, "to block the state from the unnecessary, unprecedented and illegal disclosure of the personal information of millions of New York State’s public school students to a corporation called inBloom Inc.," the parents' advocacy group said in a statement Nov. 14. 

State education officials were served with a set of papers at the argument on the petitioners'request for a temporary restraining order, which was denied by the judge, said SED spokesman Tom Dunn. "We cannot comment on pending legislation."  

Opponents can.

"I have been inundated with emails and calls from parents throughout the state who want to join the lawsuit.  Unfortunately, the attorneys are not taking on any new plaintiffs at this time," said Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, in the statement. "However, I encourage you to find another attorney to represent you – and since the arguments are already clearly stated in the legal briefs linked to above, the research would not take too much time."

The parents argue that storing the data on inBloom violates the state's Personal Privacy Protection Law.

The suit is the latest event in the widening controversy about several parts of Race to the Top, including also the Common Core curriculum and tests and the new Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers and administrators. 

The list of local districts objecting to the data collection is growing. See Patch's coverage for details.

"Most of parents' privacy concerns have to do with prior discipline, attendance and disabilities. I have suggested to SED that they make clear in the deal with inBloom that the above items can't be released even with student or parent approval," said State Regent Harry Phillips, who represents Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties on the board that oversees education in New York. "The fear is that a college might ask a student to release all of his/her data making a refusal to release a negative to a college admission person."

Class Size Matters is also offering sample resolution wording for school boards and parent groups who wish to formally protest.

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