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New technology worries Guilford County parents

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GREENSBORO, NC — Guilford County will become the first and only county in North Carolina to experiment with inBloom, a nonprofit technology company with the aim of making individualized education easier.

Vanessa Jeter with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction said no contract has been signed and no money has changed hands, but a memorandum of understanding allows Guilford County Schools to be the pilot program.

“It’s something to help school districts use the data that they already collect in a better way,” Jeter said.

Jeter compared inBloom’s technology to apps on iPhones.

“You have a lot of information in your phone but you can’t really do anything with it unless you have an app or a program that allows you to use it the way you want,” Jeter said.

Jeter said the technology would allow schools to group and analyze data more efficiently.

GCS Chief of Staff Nora Carr said the pilot program was still very much in the conceptual stage and that GCS had not even seen as much of a product demonstration at this early point in the process.

A blog post circulated on Facebook prompted three Guilford County Schools parents to speak with FOX8 about their concerns

The chief concern is that their children’s sensitive information — academic performance, social security number, economic status, race, gender — will be shared with inBloom.

Rick Moore’s seven-year-old daughter is currently a student at Shady Brook Elementary in High Point.

“I think our children’s sensitive information should stay sensitive,” Moore said, adding that he feared identity theft.

Moore worried that no amount of online privacy protection could be enough, given a recent fraud incident that happened to him.

“I have a credit card in my wallet that I never use, and still somebody found a way to steal it and [use it as me].”

Nora Carr said GCS takes student privacy very seriously and wouldn’t be involved in any program, pilot or otherwise, that exposed student information to those not legally allowed to have it.

“At this point I think the fear and concern is moving beyond where the reality is,” Carr said. “We’ve not even seen a product demo yet.”

Genevieve Haas with inBloom said no one at inBloom is even legally allowed to look at the information GCS would be storing with them. Haas also said inBloom complies with all federal privacy laws including the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.

inBloom is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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