The first is, of course, the huge data breach by Sped/Legal (no one will take responsibility here so I don't know who to name) in releasing student data about every Sped student in the district (as well as some Gen Ed students at Roosevelt High School).
I am dismayed by both the district and Board reactions. I get why they want to believe this is just some isolated incident and wasn't a "true" data breach (meaning, some outside hacker got the data). The problem is that it IS the district's job to protect that data, in both big and small ways.
Then there is the issue of a data breach at Ballard High School in late December. Principal Keven Wyncoop sent home a letter to parents that said it happened on Dec. 8th 2014 with student transcripts from the senior class being sent by a counselor via e-mail to a Ballard high parent AND the admissions office at Western Washington University.
The claim is that "immediate action" was taken when the school was informed of the "error."
Okay, so question one: when did Ballard become aware there were two errors in sending out the transcripts?
The letter is dated Dec. 18th so that's 10 days. Principal Wyncoop says both the Ballard parent and WWU said they deleted the data and did not use or disclose it in any way. That's great and that's just what the guardian in the Sped case said as well. But how long did either the parent or WWU hang onto that data?
What about the day when someone doesn't report getting data and doesn't delete that info and does use it? Because you keep making these kinds of mistakes and that day will come.
Principal Wyncoop says they review "transcript release processes and educated staff on best practices." Great but is that accountability? It is in Seattle Schools.
One oddity to his letter to parents is this: "These protocols include searching for transcripts one at a time when it is to be shared and establishing an expectation of double checking personal information to be shared is accurate before it is shared with anyone else." Why would he feel the need to tell parents that personal information needs to be doubled-checked for accuracy before it is shared? I find that strange because the issue at hand was not accuracy; it was allowing out information that should not have gone out to those entities.
So at least one parent, Broken, was not happy with these answers and here is what that parent says:
From the principal's letter:The transcripts released in error have been deleted and are no longer in the possession of any private parties outside the district.
"The question no one is asking: who is or are the email providers of the Ballard parent? Hotmail? Gmail? The statement above is false, because the email provider(s) are still in possession of those transcripts, and they have almost certainly already been added to personal profiles (existing or shadow) for every name on every transcript, followed by associating that data back with those kids' gmail, hotmail, etc. accounts wherever possible. You can't "undo" a mistake like this.
All text and data, whether it's in the body of an email or embedded in decipherable enclosures is fair game for data-mining purposes. This is not in question, Google has made it very clear that not only do they do this, but they believe it is their legal right to do so:
<a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/google-filing-says-gmail-users-have-no-expectation-of-privacy" C|Net: Google says Gmail users have no expectation of privacy.
The important thing to remember: nothing EVER gets deleted. Unless the district has written confirmation from Google or Microsoft or whoever that the content of those emails have been deleted from their systems, and the subsequent data-mining analysis removed from their databases, the statement above by Mr. Wyncoop is a lie. It may be an accidental lie, but it is still incorrect.
The reality of 2014 is that most email providers never delete your emails or their analyses of them. Ever. They're just marked as not being visible to you. Something everyone should consider with their personal email, and something that all kids should be taught from day one."
End of Broken's statements.
Our final story?
The Technology department has organized a Teaching and Learning (T&L) Technology Vision Summit for January 24th. This was described by district communications like this:
Do you have a vision for how technology can enable teaching and learning at Seattle Public Schools and how it can support “A Day in the Life of a Seattle Public School Student”?
Are you willing to share and discuss that vision with instructors, principals, district leaders, community partners, students and ed-tech visionaries from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Dell, Cisco, HP, Blackboard, Intel and other leading technology companies?
If your answer is “yes,” we encourage you to register for the Seattle Public Schools Teaching & Learning Technology Vision Summit to be held at Cleveland High School on Saturday, January 24. This is NOT a taskforce, and you will not simply be a spectator. You will be involved, and your voice will be heard. Attendance is limited.
Here's the actual webpage for the Summit and what it says:
This summit will bring together representatives from SPS leadership, faculty, community partners, students, City of Seattle, business, members of the SPS Technology Vision Taskforce and others to help create a vision for Teaching & Learning at SPS, and how technology will enable that vision.
A technology understanding is important...but representatives should also have a passion for creating an educational environment for SPS students to flourish in, be able to share the views and visions of the organization they represent, and provide a vision on how technology will enable that environment. All discussions and activities will focus on a vision for our students...not on specific technology products or services. That comes later!
The summit will be facilitated by Mr. Jim Lengel (see bio) and will focus on "A day in the life of a 21st Century SPS student" - What the student is doing from when he/she rises in the morning to when he/she goes to bed at night. To learn more about the process to be used during the Summit, click here.
Your participation will help create the vision for a world class K-12 environment in Seattle where every SPS student can flourish and achieve their dreams.
See the difference? Much bigger emphasis on the latter statements on business and City government and the Technology Vision taskforce, not community and parents. In fact, they don't even mention parents in their statement.
Naturally, I was interested and signed up. (I also asked to speak on student data privacy but was told that would be for another time.) But I was also informed by Tech Department head, Carmen Rahm:
I absolutely agree that student data privacy and safety needs to be paramount in everything we do. It will either be viewed as part of the vision, or one of the guiding principles we use when we execute every aspect of the vision.
Unfortunately, the Summit is not going to be structured in such a way that will permit anyone giving talks, not even the technology businesses that will be attending.
Fine on "no talks" but how is student data privacy and safety is "paramount" but they won't be discussing it at this summit?
Then, almost if he was foretelling, he invited me to meet with him and his staff. That's great but that's not going to a district-sponsored event on technology.
The foretelling is that I received an e-mail saying "sorry, no space." They have a cap of 150 from these 8 groups:
· SPS Students
· SPS Instructors/Teachers
· SPS Principals
· SPS Community Partners
· SPS Cabinet and Board
· SPS Parents/Guardians
· SPS Ed-Tech Business Partners
· SPS Technology Taskforce Members
I'm not sure I understand why this was advertised at all if it would be so easily filled by existing members or partners.
The worst part of the e-mail? It was NOT sent blind cc and had the names and e-mail address for about 60 people. Now my name and e-mail address is a public one for this blog but if it had been my private one, I would NOT have been happy.
To have sent this notice in this fashion strikes me as unprofessional and a disservice to those who inquired about attending.
I wrote to Mr. Rahm about who the Ed-Tech Business partners and community partners were as well as the issue of not blind cc'ing the previous e-mail. In his e-mail back to me, he let me know the ed-tech partners but completely ignored the issue of the blind copy cc. I know that at least one other person on that list was quite irate about this. (On who are the community partners, he said he would have to check to see if I would have to file a public disclosure document for that information. For a public school district event.)
So who are the tech partners coming?
- Public Consulting Group (PCG)
- Apex Learning
- Hewlett Packard
So 14 of the 150 participants at the Summit will be tech businesses. Do I believe there will be 14 of every other group there? Does there really need to be 14 people from the Board/Cabinet?
Want to know what else is sad? There's an SPS "Instructional Technology Blog" that looks like a place for SPS teachers/Tech staff to share ideas. This seems like a good idea and something worthwhile for teachers.
The last post was June 2012.