New York state will postpone uploading private student data to the cloud via inBloom Inc., an education nonprofit, until April at the earliest, according to the education department. The state education department says the delay is due to problems getting the project off the ground, but the delay of at least 69 days is being touted by an anti-inBloom activist as a concession to mounting political pressure.
Twelve parents filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order on the state’s plan to complete uploading data by Jan. 22, and the parents will continue to pursue their legal action, according to Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, a New York-based education advocacy group that is organizing much of the opposition to inBloom. “We’re still going to ask for an injunction and to stop it altogether. Our lawsuit claims the entire plan of the state is illegal and should not go forward,” she said in a phone interview.
The state education department says the delay is due to technical dificulties. “The Engage New York Portal is a complicated project with many dependencies across three dashboard vendors, one system services vendor, and a data services partner,” wrote state education spokesman Tom Dunn in a prepared statement via email. “Because our contractors have advised us that implementation of the EngageNY Portal is taking longer than expected (as is often the case in large technology projects), the upload of a full data set to inBloom isn’t needed until about April at the earliest, so we are holding off.”
But Haimson responded, “We believe they’re holding off to figure out what to do next. The more delays, the better off we are.”
In December, Democrats in the New York Assembly publicly opposed the project. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Catherine Nolan, who chairs the state’s education committee, released a statement about a letter they sent to John King, state education commissioner, “expressing serious concerns about a plan to share sensitive student data with an outside vendor.” The letter was signed by nearly 50 of their colleagues in the Assembly.
“It is our job to protect New York’s children. In this case, that means protecting their personally identifiable information from falling into the wrong hands,” said Silver in the statement. “Until we are confident that this information can remain protected, the plan to share student data with InBloom must be put on hold.”
Correction: Originally, this blog post incorrectly stated that a hearing was scheduled in this case. In fact, papers in the case were due on Jan. 10 to Thomas A. Breslin, an Albany County Court Judge and Acting Supreme Court Judge, who has the case on the New York State Supreme Court.