NC Longitudinal Database Committee Quietly Dissolved and Replaced

A committee formed to bring oversight to the statewide longitudinal database system (SLDS) in North Carolina was recently dissolved.

An August 8th letter from the board’s chair, Keith Werner, called for the dissolution of the board, “per Session law 2016-94 ( Appropriations Act 2016)”.  Werner is also the Chief Information Officer of the NC’s Information Technology division.

Requests for comment from Mr. Werner, as well as Rep. Blackwell and Rep. Johnson were made. None of them replied.

The Appropriations Act of 2016 doesn’t technically call for the dissolution of the board. Instead, there is language replacing the board which reads as follows:

“(1)      “Board” means the governing board of the North Carolina Longitudinal Data System.“Center” means the Governmental Data Analytics Center as established in Part 8 of Article 15 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes.” (pg. 16)

Read: Chapter 143B, Article 15, Part 8 (See pages 29 to 35).

It appears that this committee has been renamed to “Governmental Data Analytics Center” (GDAC) and placed under the sole control of NC’s Information Technology division CIO, Keith Werner.

The main purpose appears to be the sharing of data of all kinds in order to make state systems more ‘efficient’ utilizing ‘public-private partnerships’.  This would seem to be in line with the progress of the construction of a P-20w database in North Carolina.

Data CollectionFor the uninitiated, the P-20w database is about tracking your kid from birth or pre-k through college and into their career.

The P-20 is one step away from a national student database and the amount of data being collected on kids is incredible.

The privacy implications inherent in the P-20w are very real, especially when one considered the push by the U.S. Department of Education to collect subjective social and emotional data on kids.

One of the duties of the GDAC will be to, “Manage and coordinate enterprise data integration efforts” which includes, “Individual-level student data and workforce data from all levels of education and the State workforce”.

Nowhere in Chapter 143B, Article 15, Part 8 is FERPA compliance mentioned. Currently, parents have no access to the NC SLDS, which in and of itself is a FERPA violation.

I myself went on a two-year long legal journey trying to access my child’s NC SLDS record. The short lesson from my journey is that there is no interface or access for parents to the SLDS.  That lack of access means that the NC Department of Public Instruction is violating the FERPA rights of every parent in the state on a daily basis.

It is unclear what kind access, if any, parents will have to the P-20w system. Also, as with the SLDS, there is no way to opt your child out of the data collection.

The ‘GDAC’ still has to report to three legislative committees; Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology.

However, this consolidation creates a loss of external oversight over a set of extremely sensitive set of data – – our children’s.

The section after the formation of the GDAC  of the 2016 Appropriations Act deals with Data Sharing (“§ 116E-6). It requires that all schools from k-12 to universities, “Comply with the data requirements and implementation schedule for the System as set forth by the Center”. (Pg. 17)

The original Longitudinal Data Systems Board was formed as a result of House Bill 964 during the 2011 session of the General Assembly.

The state statute referring to this board does not have a mechanism for dissolution, but only includes language on appointees and term limits.

“Appointed members of the Board shall serve terms of four years. Terms of appointed members shall begin May 1, 2013, and every four years thereafter. Appointed members may be reappointed but shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. Vacancies among appointed members shall be filled by the appointing entity and shall be for the remainder of the vacant term.”

This board was supposed to meet quarterly starting in May of 201.  Only a handful of meeting reports were located on the General Assembly website.

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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