Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Photos of former students removed from slideshow

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Montgomery County Public Schools removed a slide last week from an online version of a Quince Orchard High School presentation that included photographs of 18 former students alongside data describing them as needing help in algebra.

The presentation, delivered in July at an educators' symposium at Harvard University, was posted on a Harvard Web site without the former students' permission, according to MCPS spokeswoman Kate Harrison. It was online for about week without the school system's knowledge before an MCPS parent alerted school officials, said Harrison. MCPS "immediately" had the slide removed.

"Although we didn't violate any laws, it's certainly a reminder to us that in this day and age you have to be careful what you publish because of the Internet things are more widely distributed," Harrison said. "That was the first time the information was available beyond a small group of educators…What happened is that Harvard decided to publish the presentations and it became a new situation."

Principal Carole Working has encouraged QOHS teachers to spice up dry data with photographs reminding educators whom they're trying to help, Harrison said.

The presentation of about 100 slides included one with a collage of 18 former students' photographs from old yearbooks, Harrison said. It was designed for internal use and shared among teachers until it made its way to Harvard for the symposium.