LITTLETON - The private information of nearly 85,000 Jefferson County public school students will soon be available in a single database.
Supporters call it a breakthrough, but opponents call it an invasion of privacy.
Jeffco Public Schools is joining forces with inBloom, a pilot program praised by supporters as a revolutionary way to streamline student information.
Some parents have serious concerns, that student grades, test scores, even health records will be vulnerable to cyber attack.
Rachael Stickland, who has two children attending Jeffco schools, worries her kids' personal information could be exposed.
"I'm very concerned about our children's privacy," Stickland said. "In my eyes, it's an invasion of our children's privacy and parents aren't involved in the conversation and they're not allowed to consent."
As early as next school year, Jeffco Public Schools will place the private information of Jeffco students in a single data cloud, or dashboard, on inBloom.
The pilot program is partially paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has been touted as an innovative new way to streamline student data.
JeffCo schools Chief Information Officer Greg Mortimer calls the current system cumbersome and a waste of teacher's time.
"With inBloom, what that does is it allows teachers to get access to data in a much more efficient way than they do now," Mortimer said. "They have to log into so many different systems. Eight, 9, 10 systems or more sometimes on a daily basis just to get access to the data that they need."
inBloom puts in all in one place, which greatly concerns some parents including Stickland.
"It could be hacked," Stickland said. "We just don't know. And with all this data stored in one place, it becomes a very big target."
Stickland's online petition to put the brakes on inBloom has nearly 300 signatures so far.
"inBloom has the resources to secure their data better than virtually every school district in America and that's certainly the case for Jeffco," Mortimer said.
Both sides say they want Jeffco parents to be informed, and decide what they think is best to keep their kids' information safe.
Another concern is that inBloom will share student data with third party companies, which may not have the same digital security technology.
Jeffco points out the pilot program is in full compliance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, although those laws were recently relaxed to allow collection and sharing of student data without parental consent.
InBloom spokesperson said nobody was available for an interview after business hours Tuesday, but he did encourage parents to visit inBloom's website which answers common security questions.
Opponents of inBloom have created this website.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)