Johnson City school sends wrong emergency cards home with students

Nathan Baker • Feb 7, 2014 at 9:13 PM

The Johnson City school district apologized to families for the accidental release of students’ personal information and offered identity monitoring services to those who were affected.

Debra Bentley, the system’s supervisor of instruction and communication, said some students in six classes at Woodland Elementary School were sent home Wednesday with the wrong emergency cards, which can include students’ addresses, home telephone numbers and Social Security numbers.

Bentley said Woodland Principal Karen Reach asked staff to send students’ emergency contact cards home in the children’s communication folders, hoping parents would review them and send corrections or updates back to the school, but some cards were put in the wrong folders and went home with the wrong students.

“It wasn’t purposeful or malicious,” Bentley said. “The cards were just placed in the wrong folder for the students to take home.”

On Thursday, Superintendent of Schools Richard Bales sent letters to the parents of the 100 students in those classes who may have been impacted, asking them to return the cards if they had received the incorrect information and promising to “assume financial responsibility for any future harm.”

So far, the parents of five students have contacted the school to say they had received the wrong information, Bentley said, and they promptly returned the cards.

School board attorney Lee Patterson and Johnson City Risk Management Director Joy Baker have put the proper safeguards in place to monitor the situation long-term, Bentley said.

The district will contract with an identity and credit monitoring service for a specified length of time to alert parents to any potential misuses of the accidentally released information.

The specifics of that service, including what protections will be offered, how many students will be covered and how much it will cost the district, will be released early next week, Bentley said.

To prevent similar accidental releases of student personal information at other schools, she said the principals at every building in the district were contacted and warned to take extra care with children’s sensitive identifiers.

In his letter, Bales’ writes that the district believes the potential for harm is minimal, but asks parents to “monitor your child’s Social Security number and records on a routine basis and be alert for unusual transactions or information that would lead you to believe your child’s identity has been compromised.”

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