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Queens Chronicle

Close but no cigar for student privacy bills

Legislation stalled in state Senate

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:30 am

The student privacy bill, which would allow parents and students 18 and older to opt out of the state Education Department’s disclosure of personal identifiable information to a third party, is still up in the air as the legislative session came to a close this week.

After the bill, introduced by Assembly Education Chairwoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside) and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach), passed the Assembly unanimously, the Senate took no action.

In addition to Nolan’s bill, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell (D- Manhattan) that would block re-disclosures to third parties without parental consent was also approved by the Assembly but was not acted upon by the Senate.

Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters, an education activist group, was not happy with the outcome.

“We are very disappointed that the Senate did not act,” she said in an email.

The influx in student privacy bills was a response to the NYSED partnering up with inBloom, a nonprofit organization that would provide data storage for the SED in a central data portal that would subsequently be shared with third-party vendors.

As it stands, parents are not allowed a say in disclosing their children’s information, including name, grade, age and test scores.

Haimson, Class Size Matters, elected officials and parents throughout the city have been writing and calling the SED asking it to reconsider the current procedure and seek parental consent before sharing information.

“The state Assembly reacted to an outcry of individuals and presented logical safeguards to protect the interest of parents and students,” Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the Queens representative on the Panel of Educational Policy, said. “Parents and students should always be provided with an option to opt ‘in or out’ of nonmandated programs. It should never be assumed that parents are ‘in’ until they say they are ‘in.’”

As there are no elections for state representatives this year, the bill will be reintroduced when session begins in the fall.

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