Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Yes, I will have a separate thread on the data breach that apparently happened at a law firm that was handling a Special Education case for the district.  

Community meetings tomorrow:
Director Blanford, 10am-11:30 am at Douglass Truth Branch Library
Director Martin-Morris, 10 am-noon at NE Library branch

News about SPS:

- from the Times, problems getting subs for schools in the Puget Sound region.  In SPS, Emerson Elementary seems to have the most problems finding subs.  The SEA contract requires that all regular teachers have two days of special education training and finding subs for all those days is difficult.  SPS also requires a teaching certificate which adds to the problem (most area districts do not).  Might be something to talk about next contract negotiation time.

- also from the Times, a great story about Franklin High School (a quiet gem in our district) about a project based on the LBJ years and the War on Poverty.  The project brings in diverse groups of students working with the Seattle Rep on a theatrical project.  

- State Superintendent Randy Dorn says McCleary can't be implemented without a new source of revenue.  As well, the State Board of Ed adopted a resolution in September saying that a new revenue stream is needed. 

Add to that 1351 which, if confirmed as having passed, would then go into effect in 60 days.  Quite the double whammy and the ball is in the Legislature's court.  (FYI, Ross Hunter was quoted at Publicola saying the discussion is going to be  a "bloodblath.")

Meanwhile the Times is suggesting that the Legislature could "amend or suspend" 1351 but that can't happen without a two-thirds vote of the Legislature two years AFTER it is approved. 

In great irony, they also suggested that the passage of 1351 was "narrow" and that should allow lawmakers "leeway" to suspend it in order to fulfill McCleary.

Can you say hypocrites?  When 1240 passed for charter schools, it was the "will of the people" and how dare anyone challenge it.  Now when 1351 passes - by a very narrow margin - the Legislature can have at it at will.  

What the Times forgets is that there are other things that can be done (oh ye of little imagination). 

Great event at the Burke Museum tomorrow - Meet the Mammals.  You (and your child) can touch many specimens of mammals from their collection and they will have activities just for kids.  They will also have live animals who help with research and a police dog.

What's on your mind?

19 comments:

More Information said...

I would like to know more about this story.

Did a PTA member contact information and ask for information pertaining to a particular student? If so, was the PTA member the parent of the child?

I'd have a problem if the PTA member were trying to obtain information about another parent's child.

More Information said...

Typo: Did a PTA member contact a law firm and ask for information pertaining to another person's child?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Do you really think a random person can call up a law firm and ask for information on a case not related to them? Of course not.

I will try to get some broad detail on this but we have to respect the privacy of those involved.

mirmac1 said...

Oy, dumb question. No, this was part of a due process hearing.

Anonymous said...

A PTA member has a complaint with the district. District did its usual thing: outsource to an expensive law firm, which used it's standard procedure: inundate the other side with papers and documentation (tactic can be costly to small parties like parents). In this case it backfired, because the complainer.... noticed he had received all the documentation on all the sped students. He notified the school board and the sped PTA.

Speddie.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the focus has been on the PTA person being able to get this information from the law firm, but...

Why did SPS to give the identifying information for thousands of kids to an outside law firm in the first place?

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

NE Mom, because they can.

Did the district do any kind of check of this law firm or any other to make sure the people handling data knew what to do? Did the district mean for the law firm to have that much data. If so, was it to overwhelm the parent and make him go away?

Seems like a bad reason to give out data.

Again, student data privacy.

Charlie Mas said...

I have something to say about this, but I'll wait for the post on it.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing in the FERPA regs
http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/parents.html
that says SPS can provide my child's information (or that of 7,999 other SPS students) to a third party law firm without parental consent. SPS can share our children's files with entire schools and SPED consultants who come into those schools. They can share it with a school a student might be transferring into. They can share it when it's "directory information". They can share it when it's been subpoenaed or when it's part of a Federal investigation. But sharing it with an independent law firm for work on a case that has nothing to do with the students who were identified? No way. True, that independent law firm screwed up but what SPS has done (again) is nothing short of outrageous.

-Violated

Mary Griffin said...

@Violated,

I think it is likely that the district views the law firm as a "School Official," as it is doing work for the district. Please see http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/privacy/section_4b.asp. As such, SPS should have an agreement with the law firm which states what the law firm will do to protect student data. It may be possible that a copy of such an agreement could be obtained through a public records request, but it may also occur to the district to claim that this is attorney work product or attorney client privilege which may make it privileged.

I would assume the DOE will take a good look at how this happened, including the issue of why the firm had access to data which, on its face, seems irrelevant to the due process hearing in this case.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Violated, you may be half right and Mary is half right.

It would be interesting to know how/why the district can give out that volume of info.

On the other hand, Violated, Arne Duncan changed FERPA so that districts/boards of ed can designate ANYONE to have a "legitimate educational interest" and just give out that info.

Thanks, Arne.

Mary Griffin said...

@Melissa,

Exactly.

Anonymous said...

The Mayor did a fabulous advertisement for the Target corporation today at Hawthorne elementary:

http://murray.seattle.gov/hawthorne-elementary-school-cuts-the-ribbon-on-a-new-library-makeover/#sthash.f6ETy8iq.G3OSOXVl.dpbs

First question: How does a PTA book him to do a press conference for each year they poor hundreds of thousands of $'s into a school? Ya'll should be doing the press conference, didn't you know!?!

Second question: When exactly did it become acceptable to allow corporate branding of our kids?

kidsasmarketingtools

backwards said...

I can see why Target is in the picture, but I don't know why the Mayor is. Did he get the funding from Target? I think the concern should be with the Mayor taking the publicity for something SPS related not Target when they donated.

mirmac1 said...

Murray's angling for corporate funding of his national "launch", well duh!

Too bad he thinks his personal ambitions are more important than our students' interests. Murray, resign.

Anonymous said...

Based on what I've seen on TV and read on the times.com, I'm willing to bet the students documents are located on many Seattle school district employee's home computers or district supplied laptops.
If these devices are stolen those documents could end up anywhere.

Apparently the documents where embedded in district created PDF files where you have to click on the small text next to the subject line box to execute the process to view the attachments.
Apparently the lawyers don't understand this.

The district is claiming "operator error" when the PDFs where created. The recipient said the emails that contained the FERPA protected documents had nothing to do with the case and should have never be sent to him.

So how can the district claim with such certainty that no one else was sent the records, they can't. I would say that's false because they could not have possibly verified it to be true so fast.

Tim P.

Concerned SpEd Parent said...

From the screenshots shown in KING 5's video these look like database files...

Anonymous said...

It's an Excel spread sheet. That's the SPED master roster file for 2013-2014.

Tim P.

syd said...

OK, but we really needed the new books and the library reno. No one else was stepping up. How were we to get this? Wait 10 years for BMX or longer for a tax overhaul? These kids are here now.

I would take money for a new library from anyone. Are you listening Mr. Gates? :)