Parents of students in Jeffco Public Schools will now be able to opt out of the controversial inBloom system for storing student data.
That announcement came at a school board meeting Sept. 19, after months of controversy related to parental concerns about the security of the cloud-based data storage system, and about the student information that will be collected.
“We have listened carefully to the concerns of some of our parents, who believe the ‘dashboard’ is not the right choice for their child,” Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said. “We are working to create an opt-out provision for all parents who feel the tools we are developing don’t meet their family’s needs.”
Jeffco teachers use multiple systems every day to access student information. InBloom would centralize all student data, and then a second system known as the “classroom dashboard” would provide a single portal for access. The district says teachers would spend less time signing in and out of multiple systems and more time teaching children.
Jeffco parents have been voicing concerns since March and fear information about their children would be susceptible to hackers. Parents are also concerned about what types of information would be collected and stored.
Stevenson said the district is still on track to release next month a list of what data would be stored in inBloom, adding that it’s mostly academic-related.
“We plan to pilot the classroom dashboard in select schools during (the next school year),” Stevenson said. “At that time, parents in those schools will be given specific information about how the technology will work and will be given the opportunity to opt out of the pilot program.”
The district will pilot the inBloom technology sometime in 2014 using actual student data. A group of Jeffco teachers tested inBloom and the dashboard with “dummy” data earlier this year.
Stevenson announced the decision to create the opt-out option at the school board meeting Sept. 19.
“I’m extremely pleased,” said Rachael Stickland, a Jeffco parent. “(The district’s) willingness to allow parents the right to choose strengthens the public’s trust of the district.”
After the pilot phase, the Jeffco Board of Education would have to approve the implementation of inBloom in 2015, which would cost the district between $2 and $5 per student per year — or $172,000 to $430,000 annually. Parents could also opt out at that juncture as well.
District 1 seat
The school board will interview five applicants at its next meeting Oct. 3 to fill the vacant District 1 seat.
The five applicants are Dan Green, Samantha Hockenbery, John M. Horan, Beverly McAdam and Michele Patterson.
From 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 3, board members will interview and discuss the candidates. The board will either make a decision after the interviews or wait to see if a study session is needed for more discussion.
The seat from District 1, which covers the northern part of the county, must be filled by Oct. 10. The new board member will serve for approximately one month, until either Tonya Aultman-Bettridge or Julie Williams is elected to serve a full four-year term.
The seat has been vacant since Aug. 12, when Robin Johnson resigned from the board after moving out of Jefferson County.
The next Jeffco school board meeting will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 3 at 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. For more information, visit www.jeffcopublicschools.com.