Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seattle Public Schools does not renew contract with Graduation Alliance

From SPS Communications, some VERY good news:

District directs career-planning firm to destroy all student data

Seattle Public Schools previously partnered with a company to assist students, parents and school counselors in career planning and to create authentic High School and Beyond plans, a state graduation requirement.

The company, ConnectEdu, was in business from 2002 until April of 2014, when they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The district immediately contacted them to request that all student data be destroyed per the contract; however, since they were protected under bankruptcy laws, the data was not destroyed at that time but was fully secured. Graduation Alliance then purchased ConnectEdu, and Seattle Public Schools contacted Graduation Alliance immediately to verify again that the data was secure.

In late September, Graduation Alliance contacted families about this data, which raised concerns. The district notified the company to cease all communications with SPS families and schools. The district believes this type of service is still useful for counselors and families working together to help students plan for their future; after reviewing the options, however, the district notified Graduation Alliance that the contract would not be renewed and directed the company to destroy all student data immediately as of October 13. Graduation Alliance has confirmed that the permanent elimination of the data is underway and expected to be complete by week’s end.

Please know that the privacy of our students is a top priority at Seattle Public Schools, and student data has remained secure throughout this process.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Director Sue Peters. This has your fingerprints all over it. Your protection of our students' privacy rights is so critical. Thank you.

Sue Fan

Anonymous said...

I know first hand that Director Peters was all over the ConnectEdu problem and likely played a big role in getting central admin to insist on getting the data purged.

--Another Peters Supporter

dw said...

Thank you Melissa. Thank you SueP. Thank you Cecilia, and anyone else who has been getting the word out on this. I too have been pushing and prodding people for months to get this handled.

For once, our district did the right thing. Let's all just take a moment to relax and enjoy the good feeling that comes with this.

Okay, now that that's done, we can't let down guard. We need to keep pushing the district on the issues of student data giveaways, because if the Board doesn't come up with some strict policies, this is going to keep happening over and over again. Different companies, different goals, but the same result.

The ONLY way this can be contained is by either:

1) Not giving any student data to any non-district/non-state organization. Tough sell.

2) Properly anonymizing the data before it leaves the district. That means using unique ID #s for each set of data and each organization. No names, no student #s, no addresses, no unique characteristics that can be used to re-identify students, because data miners are really, really good at that.

mirmac1 said...

yer welcome : )