Whistleblower reveals that L.A. Schools’ Chatbot Misused Student Data during Tech Company’s Collapse

Shortly before AllHere’s collapse, an education technology firm that was well-funded and highly praised, America’s second-largest school system received warnings regarding issues with the company’s product.

During the introduction of Los Angeles Unified School District’s new AI-powered chatbot called “Ed” by AllHere, concerns were raised by a former executive that the functionality of Ed violated fundamental student data privacy principles.

Prior to The 74’s report about AllHere’s financial distress amidst $12 million in investor funds, a majority of employees were furloughed due to the company’s financial status. Founder and CEO Joanna Smith-Griffin, who was no longer in her position, was connected to the Los Angeles district.

Ed was presented by Smith-Griffin and L.A. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho as a groundbreaking personal assistant for students at various educational technology conferences. The tool was advertised as offering unparalleled insight into students’ information.

The AI-driven chatbot analyzed vast amounts of student data to provide tailored responses to inquiries about students’ academic status and assistive services.

Chris Whiteley, a former senior director at AllHere, raised concerns about the chatbot’s handling of student data, highlighting potential privacy breaches that were not addressed by LAUSD or other agencies.

While LAUSD highlighted its stringent data privacy measures and vendor relationships, concerns were raised regarding the data privacy practices of AllHere and its Ed platform.

The district affirmed that any student data stored in the Ed platform would continue to be safeguarded in accordance with data privacy regulations, regardless of AllHere’s status as a company.

Amidst reports of AllHere’s struggles and the departure of its CEO, LAUSD emphasized its ownership of Ed and ensured that it was intended for the district’s use.

Responses from the inspector general’s office and the state education department were unavailable, raising further questions about oversight of AI programs in schools.

AllHere was previously recognized as a leading edtech company, but concerns about its data practices and potential data breaches have cast a shadow over its reputation.

Despite its accolades, AllHere’s AI tool, Ed, faced scrutiny for its data processing methods and potential risks to student data privacy.

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