Monday, February 29, 2016

Sacramento judge proposes tighter security for student data | The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento judge proposes tighter security for student data | The Sacramento Bee:

Sacramento judge proposes tighter security for student data

A Sacramento-based federal judge proposed a compromise Monday that would keep the most sensitive information of 10 million current and former students in the hands of the California Department of Education, potentially addressing privacy concerns raised by parents across the state.
District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller previously ordered the Department of Education to provide extensive student records to attorneys representing the families of special-needs students who have alleged the state is failing in its oversight role and allowing districts to provide inadequate instruction. As part of the suit, special education nonprofits want to analyze state data to prove their claims.
But the case, Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association v. the California Department of Education, has generated a large number of “strong objections” to the court over the public disclosure of individual students’ names and records, Mueller said.
As a consequence, Mueller said she wanted to look for ways to reinforce existing protections to ensure that information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The judge already has required a special monitor with cybersecurity expertise to maintain tight control over the data and use encryption techniques.
“I had thought we were ready for discovery without this court having to micromanage all aspects,” Mueller said. She said she wanted to “tell what the court’s plan is and give the parties a chance to respond.”
Mueller proposed allowing the most sensitive database, known as the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, to remain under Department of Education’s control. For that database, Mueller said, plaintiffs could submit their computer queries to the state.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Rony Sagy of San Francisco said that could be difficult. “We have not seen any of these databases,” Sagy said. “We don’t know what they look like.”
“The Department of Education has said in the past they don’t know that they have the manpower to come up with what we are looking for,” Sagy added.
The Department of Education also has vowed to fight the release of the data.
CALPADS includes student demographics, course data, discipline, assessments, staff assignments, and other information collected for state and federal reporting, according to the Department of Education website.
Plaintiffs have said they hope by looking at the data to measure, among other things, how many students are improperly denied access to special education and how many are not being provided the education to which they are entitled by law. About 10 percent of studentsSacramento judge proposes tighter security for student data | The Sacramento Bee:

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