DISTRICT DELEGATES OPPOSE LIMITS ON STUDENT DATA SHARINGNovember 24, 2014
CHICAGO – IASB opposes any limit on student data sharing agreements. This was the conclusion of the Association’s annual Delegate Assembly, which met Saturday, Nov. 22, in Chicago.
The member districts’ determination in voting on Resolution 10 supports legislation to continue to allow local school districts to enter into the necessary student academics data-sharing agreements permitting the use of longitudinal data systems in order to improve student success.
“Educational researchers across Illinois and our nation have identified the educational benefits of the use of such longitudinal data,” explained school board vice president James Gates, who spoke on behalf of sponsoring district, Oak Park Unit District 97. “This resolution, while providing the necessary and appropriate student data sharing, complies with every facet of student privacy safeguards currently in General Assembly statutes,” Gates noted.
Representatives from more than 350 Illinois school districts considered 12 new resolutions on a variety of public school issues. The assembly was held in conjunction with the 2014 Joint Annual Conference.
The measure was passed by a vote of 190-132 after extensive debate. Data sharing and student privacy have both been key issues in the General Assembly this past year. Legislation that would have greatly limited data sharing passed out of the Senate but did not make it through the House of Representatives.
Delegates who opposed the resolution were concerned that student information data systems might be subject to computer hackers and risk violating privacy protection.
“We’ve all seen … [corporations] have tens of millions of [private] records stolen from them,” said resolution opponent John Faustino, a board member of Palos CCSD 118, Palos Park. Faustino said similar cybercrimes have hit major universities and might also strike at public school record systems.
The information-sharing resolution seeks legislation to continue to allow districts “to build, maintain, and utilize local longitudinal data systems in order to improve their student outcomes,” according to the sponsor.
“Basically we are asking … [to ensure that school districts can continue to share] the same kinds of information that universities share with community colleges, and universities share with high school districts,” explained Dave Schwartz, a member of the Carterville CUSD 5 Board of Education. “The best performance metric on how a school district is doing is to look at how their students do in successive years in the next level of education,” he added.
Sponsors of the resolution said that children’s educational development is entirely the focus of the proposal and that records can and will be encoded to make it impossible to identify individuals from the academic data being shared by schools.
An accompanying proposal, Resolution 9, was adopted without debate to specifically allow non-unit school districts to enter into agreements to share student data between high school and elementary school districts.
This year’s conference was attended by nearly 9,000 school board members, administrators, board secretaries, exhibitors, school attorneys, regional, state education agencies, and guests. In addition to voting on resolutions, the delegates also voted on IASB officers.
Re-elected as Association president was Karen Fisher, who also serves on the Ottawa THSD 140 board of education. Re-elected as vice president was Phil Pritzker, a member of the Wheeling CCSD 21 school board. Both will serve a one-year term.
Fisher has served on her local board since 1979, and served on IASB's board of directors from 2007 to 2011, including two years as vice president. Pritzker has been a member of the Wheeling CCSD 21 board since 1989. He has been on the IASB board of directors since 2009.
Delegates also received a written report from IASB Executive Director Roger Eddy. In his annual report, Eddy said that, even as the Association starts its second century, “We cannot forget—nor have we forgotten—that we are here to promote excellence in local school governance in support of quality public education.”
Representatives also approved a resolution opposing any legislative or rule-making initiatives that enact statewide student discipline policies. IASB has consistently lobbied against any effort to enact a statewide student discipline policy, in order to protect local control.
Anna Klimkowicz, a board member in Township HSD 211, Palatine, which sponsored the resolution, said “we are asking districts to oppose legislation and rule-making initiatives that enacts statewide student discipline policies.” But she said the larger aim was to maintain local control, allowing local schools to expedite investigations in response to anything that happens at school, including alleged student misconduct, and communicate findings and determinations to parents and guardians.
“We have to make sure that our administrators have the flexibility to start acting as soon as they can so things do not get out of hand,” Klimkowicz added.
A total of 16 resolutions were submitted to school board delegates; 12 new proposals and four amendments. Others reaffirmed existing position statements. Local member districts are encouraged to draft and submit proposals in the spring. After a committee reviews them and offers its recommendations, the delegate assembly votes on the resolutions. Those approved are used by IASB and other school management supporters to establish an agenda for their lobbying efforts.
Other resolutions approved by local school board representatives included proposals that:
- Aim to limit and equalize cost for special education student transportation in the wake of cuts in state reimbursement
- Seek to expand the use of the school facility occupation and use tax (countywide sales tax) to include purchase or lease technology that aids instruction, education or efficiency of the district
- Support changes in the Tax Increment Finance Act to prevent extending the life of a TIF beyond 23 years
- See an additional exception in the Open Meetings Act to allow discussion in executive session of building safety and security issues
- Support legislation that increases the amount of time to fill a school board vacancy from 45 to 60 days
Delegates also rejected four resolutions including: supporting a school district’s right to permit concealed carry of firearms in schools, a tax holiday for purchases of healthy foods for use at school functions, laws that would prohibit parents of truant students from withdrawing in order to attend home schooling, and laws that would prohibit school board members from holding another elected or appointed office with taxing authority.
Tom Brewer, a board member representing the sponsoring district, Tremont CUSD 702, set the tone for the discussion on concealed weapons by asking delegates to “avoid debating the good and bad of guns.” He stressed that the underlying topic was local control of schools. The delegates also did not discuss the controversial matter of concealed carry, per se, which is already permitted under state law.
The resolution was defeated by a vote of 116-203.
More than 83 percent of the state’s 855 school districts were represented at the 2014 Joint Annual Conference. This was the 82nd meeting of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators and Illinois Association of School Business Officials.
The conference offered a wide variety of professional development programs in 106 panel sessions, nine pre-conference workshops, three general sessions, and other learning opportunities. More information about this year’s conference can be found on the Association’s website: http://iasb.com/jac14/.
A list of the Association’s current position statements can be found at http://iasb.com/govrel/positions.cfm.
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