The Board of Education was notified at its May 7 meeting that a letter was recently sent home to roughly 800 parents to advise them that their student’s information was accidentally shared with a single parent in September.
According to Acting Superintendent of Schools John Reed, when a parent requested information from the school district regarding a child in August, a computer search for the student’s name generated more than 10,000 pages of data that was accidentally compiled on a disc before being checked. The disc was then sent to the parent. Dr Reed, who took over active superintendent duties in the district on Monday, May 6, said he was told the parent promptly returned the disc when realizing it had more information than was asked for.
“The school system was then confronted with the problem of how do we react to this? How do we handle this?” Dr Reed said. “The school system was advised after further study that we had an obligation to tell parents about it.”
A letter was constructed, according to Dr Reed, and was scheduled to be sent out to parents three days before the events in Sandy Hook on 12/14.
“It was forgotten about the following weeks, which turned into months,” Dr Reed said. “And the letter, which I think [departing Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson] signed months ago was actually mailed last Thursday or Friday.”
Dr Reed said the district is now offering to supply that information for any of the parents who wish to have what was shared about their student, with the caveat that it may take up to 30 days to retrieve the information from the 10,000 pages of data.
A follow-up letter is also being sent home to parents to explain the situation further, according to Dr Reed.
“I can’t raise my right hand and say I can guarantee you the information wasn’t looked at,” Dr Reed said, “but I think I can say to you, when I think about getting 10,000 pages of material, which probably 9,950 [pages] are extraneous of my request, I don’t think too many people would sit there and be engaged in it.”
Now that the district has the disc back, Dr Reed said the district does not believe the information was disseminated. He also said some of the information included phone numbers, but social security numbers were not included.
“I think this is a case of a mistake, but we want to be sure that our parents who want the back-up, will get it,” said Dr Reed.
Dr Reed also said the letter that was sent out last week was well intended, “but I think it probably generated questions that we perhaps could have answered in a more proactive way.”