Missouri Education Watchdog by Cheri Kiesecker
“worried that parents do not realize such information is going to a for-profit company”
The Texas Education Agency has made news for abruptly firing their new Special Education Director, Laurie Kash. Kash recently found out she was fired by the TEA only after reading it in the news. The TEA claims that they are firing Kash due to a lawsuit in her previous state of Oregon. Kash and her attorney say the Oregon allegations were known to TEA well in advance of hiring her. (Anyone on the TEA hiring committee who had done their due diligence would have surely found this information, no?) The interesting fact for parents everywhere is that Kash was concerned about the TEA sharing personal information of special needs students with a for-profit company, SPEDx. (SPEDx founder, Richard Nyankori, is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and also Vice President of product Development at Insight Education Group Inc.)
Kash was concerned enough to file a federal complaint about how IEP records were being shared. Then she was fired the next day.
As the Texas Statesman reports,
“Her firing also comes one day after Kash filed a federal complaint against the Texas Education Agency, claiming the agency wrongly entered into a $4.4 million, no-bid contract with a Georgia company to analyze private records for children with disabilities.
Kash asked the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General to investigate the TEA’s contract with SPEDx, a company hired to find trends and patterns in student records. In her complaint, Kash says that she is worried that parents do not realize such information is going to a for-profit company, that TEA should have gotten bids from other companies and that she doesn’t believe SPEDx can do the work with which it is charged.
“In what I’ve seen so far, I am extremely doubtful that this company is capable of providing anything particularly useful, and I worry that the end-result may actually be harmful to special education in Texas,” she wrote.”
Parents concerned about how student data is shared and profiled, analyzed outside of the school, without consent, certainly echo Ms. Kash’s concerns. We hope the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General does not sweep this under the rug. Parents of special needs children will be closely watching[…]
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