Written by Chris Boyle Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00
A hot topic in New York State is the controversy around the state education department and its recent policy of sharing of personal student information with third party data collection company InBloom; a topic that dominated a large portion of the Herricks School
Board of Education meeting on Thursday, Dec. 12.
The board unanimously voted at the meeting to reject InBloom, and demanded that the data of Herrick students not be transmitted to any third party provider. Superintendent of Schools John Bierwirth said that while this vote wasn’t legally binding, it represents the first step in what he hopes will become a series of sweeping changes in New York.
“This is something that State Senator Jack Martins and I cooked up,” he said. “Whether is actually has any power or not, we figured we’d be annoying. And we’re trying to get other districts to do the same.”
Trustee Brian Hassan reported on a recent meeting he had with Martins regarding the anger parents are expressing regarding their children’s private academic and health information being utilized for currently unknown purposes.
“I think the meeting went very well...Senator Martins said that, as both a parent and as a senator, he is very much against the state education department sharing any personal data with InBloom,” he said. “The problem is getting them to slow down when it comes to sharing information with InBloom...it’s not as easy as just saying you want to opt-out or state legislators putting a stop to it.”
Board of Education President James Gounaris said that the school district has been exploring possible legal options in order to protect the privacy of their students; however, they will require a great deal of support from neighboring schools to truly mount a defense.
“I spoke with the school’s attorney about finding an injunction or lawsuit to stop the data mining of Herricks students,” he said. “However, that’s not something that we can do, because the relationship is not between us and In Bloom; it’s between the state and InBloom. So, we are trying to do something, but the thing is not to just do it with the Herricks name alone. We need to gather support from 10 or 12 other school districts in Nassau County to file together, jointly. It’s a daunting task.”
Shelter Rock Academy Director Allison Barshak gave a presentation highlighting certain programs. Barshak said that this is a school within the district that provides an alternative learning environment that gives students in grades seven through 12 opportunities to improve their academic standing and interpersonal skills.
“It is a special place...and for the last 10 years kids have been coming to me, and they’ve been finding a place where they can learn to learn to love to come to school again,” she said. “We teach the curriculum in a different way...so our students can find a passion, and they can grow and come up with a place to move forward from Herricks to someplace else.”