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Shorewood School District mistakenly releases student info while responding to records request

Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 20:24:58-05

SHOREWOOD, Wis. — The Shorewood School District mistakenly released students' personal information while responding to an open records request.

TMJ4 News learned a parent made the request to see results of the district survey and was surprised to see personal information was not redacted.

Parents in the district were incredibly frustrated.

"We got an email from the district saying my son's personal information was included in that breach of information," said Heather Stepanski.

"My 13-year-old daughter was affected," said Michele Zrubek.

According to a letter, the data released included numeric responses to the survey, the student's name and ID number, school, and other demographics like gender and ethnicity.

Superintendent Bryan Davis apologized for the oversight. In a letter to families he said:

"Following an internal review, the District has instituted new procedures and authorizations to prevent this from happening in the future. Families of students included in the release of information are being contacted with additional information about this disclosure. We take our obligation to safeguard student information very seriously. Please accept our sincere apologies for this error."

However, parents tell us it is not the first time their student's personal information was compromised.

"It's basically the same message that they gave me last time. 'I'm sorry it won't happen again.' To me, that's not acceptable," said Zrubek.

These moms said in November their kids, who have special needs, had personal information mistakenly posted and made accessible to others on a school platform.

"It wasn't just their names, it was their entire everything, their disabilities, their address, their names, their medical diagnosis, everything. It was stuff that nobody but us needs to see," said Stepanski.

Neither mom we talked with feels confident these mistakes won't happen again.

"I want it to stop. Unless parents speak up and made aware of this, it's going to happen over and over again," said Stepanski.

"I think more drastic measures need to be taken, and we need to get new people into the district that understand confidentiality and hold that secure and make us as parents feel secure, that our children’s information is confidential," said Zrubek.

The school district declined an interview request and to comment further. Those who received these documents were asked to destroy them.

TMJ4 News talked with one parent who says they deleted it and they believe the others who got it did too.

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