« Philadelphia's School Budget Seeks to Add Programs After Years of Cuts | Main | Effective Principals to Get Their Own 'Franchise' Schools in Las Vegas Pilot »

Agency Releases Confidential Info of Thousands of D.C. Students

The District of Columbia's office of the state superintendent of education released confidential data for thousands of students while responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from Internet news site BuzzFeed.

The disclosed data includes student names, birth dates, grade levels, gender, race, ethnicity, English-language-learner classification, special education status, and  school and disciplinary records, but Social Security numbers were not revealed, the district said.

BuzzFeed reports that one Microsoft Excel file sent to them included the private data of "more than 80,000 students." The district attempted to redact the information, but BuzzFeed reporters were able to review the data when they transferred the data to a non-Excel file.

The office of the state superintendent of education operates like a state-level agency, monitoring programs for D.C.'s district-run and charter schools. In the wake of the inadvertent data release, Superintendent Hanseul Kang said her staff is working to beef up security measures.

"We will be working with the deputy mayor for education and other education agencies in the district as part of a task force that will engage data-privacy experts to ensure that D.C. becomes a leader in protecting student data privacy," Kang said in a statement. "Please know that I recognize the serious and troubling nature of this breach. I apologize for this situation, and want to assure you that improving our security procedures will be one of my top priorities in my first weeks and months as state superintendent of education."

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments