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September 6, 2013     Cape Gazette
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September 6, 2013

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Cape Gazette NEWS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 6- MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013 21 Cape school year starts with stacks of paper Data collection mostly stays local By Melissa Steele School is back in session, and along with it come tons of pa- perwork for parents to fill out. Emergency forms, waivers, per- mission slips all blend together in a pile that is sifted through later that night. Making sure all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted is a chore in itself. So what happens to all the paperwork sent back to school? For the most part, it stays in the school, says Alison May, spokeswoman for the Depart- ment of Education. "We do not release data to the public," she said. The issue of sharing infor- mation - commonly referred to as data mining - was a topic raised at several school board meetings over the summer. Participants who protested the state's adoption of Common Core curriculum for Delaware public school students also said certain technology companies would benefit from student in- formation collected by schools. Specifically, the Bill and Me- linda Gates Foundation and their affiliation with Microsoft was targeted because the founda- tion contributed financially to the development of Common Core Standards. Some people said IBM would receive student information; others suggested iris screening would soon be used to gather information from students. None of this is true, May said. What the state does gather is student information during their school years, said Pat Bush, di- rector of Technology Resources and Data Development. This includes information on a student's health, discipline, test scores, grades, attendance and demographics. "The intent of the data is for use within the schools so staff has access to serve students," Bush said. Data also is housed with the state Department of Education, but access is allowed only on a COURTESTY OF SYRACUSE.EDU DATA MINING has become a profit- able business, but education officials say student data is not shared with the public or companies. need-to-know basis, Bush said. The state collects student in- formation for Title I, special education and other federal pro- grams that it reports directly to the federal government, May said. Besides that, she said, academ- ic researchers often request data for studies or other academic Truancy lawgets tough on cutting class Twenty unexcused absences will land student in court By Melissa Steele. A new truancy law could mean serious consequences for Cape Henlopen students, particularly those who cut classes. "Once a kid hits 20 days of unexcused absences for a class, they're going to go to court," said Randall Redard, visiting teacher and homeless liason for Cape Henlopen School District. "This law is going to have more of an impact than ever." In past years, Redard said, the district focused on kindergar- ten through fifth-graders who missed school because of unex- cused absences. Now, he said, the law sets stricter attendance rules for sixth grade through senior year at high school. That means high school students who in the past have repeatedly cut class af- ter lunch, at the end of the school day or anytime for that matter will no longer be allowed to do so, Redard said. "Anytime a student is not in school and there is not a writ- ten excuse, or if the reason on the excuse is not valid, it will result in an unexcused absence," Redard said. The new law has eliminated the flexibility, Redard said, he once had to determine whether to take a high school student to truancy court. In fact, he said, the truancy court previously discouraged truant officers from bringing in students who are 16 or older. At age 16 and 17, students can drop out of school withtheir parents' written permission. By 18, students can sign themselves out of school permanently. Redard said he handles about 25 truant cases a year; he expects that will more than double under the new law. "The courts are already pre- paring for this," he said. "Cape cases used to go on the same day as Seaford and Woodbridge. The court is considering giving Cape Continued on page 22 pursuits. "They may be studying some- thing like the closing of the achievement gap," she said. Reseachers must present pro- posals to the Department of Education outlining exactly what they intend to do with the data. Each proposal is approved be- fore the data is released, May said. She said the department re- ceives about three requests a month for data, but the requests are not automatically granted. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevents school officials from releasing student information to the public, May said. "Both the state and fed- eral government have to abide by FERPA, too," she said. Gregory Meyers 0 Hairc000000 a latest innovative cutting and coloring techniques. Call for a free consultation or check out our website. Caring for your European Import is our Specialty! Diagnostic & Mechanical Service Specialist with over 25 years experience. AUTHORIZED BOSCH SERVICE CENTER R I | 17475 Nassau Commons Bled. Uny S Lewes, DE 19958 EugOPEANToI:IGAI:IS iVi 302-645-6410 Dewey Continued from page 19 they would do in the absence of an election, both women said, "Vacation." Howell bids farewell Commissioner Joy Howell de- cided not to run for re-election. "I've enjoyed my time on the council, and I'm proud of what we accomplished. I felt that council that I could focus on my management consulting firm and just be a resource as needed, and I wish them all well," Howell said in an email. On Danaher - Howell's re- placement - Howell said, "No one knows the town code, char- ter and comp plan like Ellen Danaher. She is well-prepared to be a commissioner." Hanson, Legates and Danaher will be sworn in Saturday, Sept. 28, at Dewey Beach Life Saving Station on Dagsworthy Avenue. with the mix of skill sets on the