Parent Raises Concern About Student Data Leak in Emerson Schools

In a recent Emerson School Board meeting, a concerned parent pressed the school’s administration for clarity on a recent data breach and the lack of communication to affected families. Meanwhile, the board revealed robust performance metrics, including surpassing state averages in newly implemented assessments and celebrating a record average AP score. The meeting also addressed diversity and inclusion efforts, facilities upgrades, and community engagement initiatives as the district prepares for the upcoming school year.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Rice, a member of the public, voiced concerns about a recent data breach, probing for specifics on the data leaked and the school’s next steps. Dr. Philip H. Nisonoff, the school’s Superintendent, acknowledged some information leak but maintained a measured stance, “We are awaiting the delivery from a state organization that will allow us to know exactly what documents were released.” Citing the ongoing federal probe, Dr. Nisonoff was circumspect about diving into further details.

Rice pushed back, noting students and their families were not notified about the potential exposure of their personal data. Dr. Nisonoff responded, stating “If we feel there was extreme sensitive information we would let a parent know that.”

The board also discussed student assessments, highlighting the district’s focus on using multiple indicators for evaluating student progress. “We use them alongside our rubric scores, report cards, reading levels, teacher input, and child study team evaluations,” a staff member emphasized during a presentation. While discussing NJGPA—a test introduced in March 2022—the staff member revealed that the district surpassed state averages, with 97% of students passing the English Language Arts (ELA) portion and 76% in Math, compared to state averages of 55% in Math. The district is actively addressing slight achievement gaps between male and female students, as well as among ethnic subgroups, through diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

On the Advanced Placement (AP) front, the board celebrated the school’s best-ever average AP score of 3.1, with 72% of exams receiving a score of three or higher. The announcement of a new AP Macroeconomics course came in response to consistent student interest in economics, adding further depth to the district’s robust AP offerings. The board also highlighted an independent study option for students interested in AP courses not available due to low enrollment.

While English Language Learners constitute a small subset of the student population, their educational needs weren’t overlooked. All 17 ELL students took the Access for ELLs test, and four reached the “ready to exit” criteria. Funding from the Emergency Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) is being allocated to train existing teachers for ESL certification.

Among other updates, Jeremy Teigen spoke of how testing data fits into a broader assessment strategy, and Amy Mara acknowledged upcoming events at the Bergen County level. Facilities upgrades were also mentioned, including improvements to tennis courts and a new joint Emerson-Cresco football team, described by Superintendent Dr. Philip H. Nisonoff as “going very, very well.”

Community engagement got a nod with the expansion of the Emerson PTA to include seventh-grade students. The administrative team’s preparation for the upcoming school year was acknowledged, with new teachers being oriented through a bus tour of the town—a unique Emerson tradition.

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