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Clarkstown Schools Opt Out Of Race To The Top

Dr. J. Thomas Morton reads letter about opting out of Race To The Top.
Dr. J. Thomas Morton reads letter about opting out of Race To The Top.

The Clarkstown Central School Board voted unanimously to follow the superintendent’s recommendation and opt out of The Race To The Top. Clarkstown’s decision follows that of other Rockland County school districts to leave the federally funded program because of concerns over the privacy and protection of student information.

At Thursday’s board meeting Dr. J. Thomas Morton read a letter he planned to send to the CEO of inBloom with the board’s approval. The letter outlined the district’s reasons for withdrawing from the initiative. It expressed “grave concerns regarding student test data and other private information that may be processed through your company.”

Dr. Morton asked for Clarkstown’s student data to be deleted from inBloom’s data storage. 

“In exercising this option it is our expectation that there will be no student test data processed or maintained by inBloom and the same will not be maintained at the direction of the New York State Department of Education. If inBloom is unwilling to make that commitment in writing you should immediately notify us so that we can consider our next steps. “

He acknowledged that the student information concerning program participation, enrollment history, assessment history, attendance information data would still be sent to the state data warehouse.

Dr. Morton also addressed the issued that parents have been not given the authority to decide whether or not they wanted their child’s information released.

“It is also our serious concern that parental consent rights to release the student data that is of a personally identifiable nature for purposes that are not central to the educational mission of our school district not be shared with other educational institutions or their vendors in accordance with the restrictions set forth in law.”

The letter will be posted on the district’s website on Friday.

Previously, Dr. Morton sent a letter to parents in November, which included his concerns about the security of student information and the lack of definitive answers from the state education department. The district did receive about $18,000 in federal funds to participate in the program and it may have to return that money. 

Clarkstown’s decision to opt out follows that of the Pearl River and South Orangetown school districts, which opted out of the program earlier this year. Numerous Westchester County districts have also withdrawn.

Editor's Note: The New York State School Boards Association surveyed its members and found an overwhelming number were opposed to student information being forwarded to inBloom. Read more about it here. 

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