The PI had an in-depth story today on the accidental disclosure of 7500+ student files to a guardian seeking to protect his sister's Sped rights.
In the story, it was stated that the district had filed to go to court and force the guardian to destroy the files. This was puzzling to me as at least one reader said it HAD been done last week. There is an update today from the district saying this (partial):
We received confirmation yesterday that the individual provided the court with certification that the documents have been deleted and the individual possesses no copies, electronic or otherwise. The court certification confirmed the documents were not distributed, electronically or as hard copy, to any other individual or party except for a KING 5 News reporter who was permitted to view the files on the individual’s computer. KING 5 has confirmed they did not keep copies of the data.
But the questions continue.
- Some of the times that e-mails were sent do not seem to match up. The court document states Morley sent the district/board an e-mail on Nov. 11 at 8:30 pm. E-mails are time-stamped, right? From the district's e-mail today:
The district was emailed by the individual at around midnight Nov. 11. Our legal department saw the email at noon, Nov. 12.
- the guardian has contended that he contacted the district and/or law firm when he first received a batch of files on Nov. 7th. The district has never confirmed or denied that.
- again, WHY did the district send that pdf will all those files embedded in it?
- again, the district keeps saying families have been notified. But I believe that, even for families affected, the only notification has been electronic. If the district is believing that all families in the district read the website and/or have e-mails, they would be wrong. The district told the DOE that they HAD notified all families.
I still do not believe that to be accurate.
- The lawyer for the firm, Preg O'Donnell&Gillett, is Lara Hruska. From the PI:
Lara Hruska, the Preg, O’Donnell and Gillette attorney who sent Morley the documents, contacted Morley the next day (Nov. 7th) and asked that he destroy the records.
In a sworn declaration, Hruska said Morley previously requested email and educational records related to one child. Hruska said she thought she was sending Morley only those records when she disclosed thousands of students’ personal information.
“Unbeknownst to me at the time I sent them to Mr. Morley, the attachments to the emails could be viewed by him upon receipt,” Hruska said in the declaration. “Some of these attachments inadvertently contained confidential, personally identifiable information on other students.”
One e-mail had 271 pages and another 457 pages and she never thought to herself, "That's a big pdf." Never thought to check what was there if only to protect her own firm.
Hruska said she only realized the error after Morley emailed each school board member, Nyland and several other district leaders with his concerns. The attorney called Morley and then emailed him apologizing for the error; she said she didn’t realize that the PDFs included working links.
“I would sincerely appreciate it if you would please let the numerous stakeholders you emailed regarding my mistake … know that the disclosure was due to a technological error and that you have spoken to the attorney at fault and she is remedying the situation,” Hruska said in her Nov. 12 email to Morley.
First, isn't the person in the wrong supposed to own up to the mistake? Why should Mr. Morley let those "stakeholders" know about her error?
Second, what "technological error?" Did the district's computer send a huge number of files to her office and her computer sent them to Mr. Morley? Twice? I don't think that's how it works.
Filing a complaint to higher-ups:
If you, Joe Citizen, want to file a complaint, apparently OSPI isn't taking them because the district self-disclosed the problem . However, if you are one of the affected Special Ed families, you can. Here's the link.
The Washington Bar Association does not accept complaints about law firms, just lawyers.
The Preg O'Donnell& Gillett lawyer on this case was Lara R. Hruska; she is an associate at the firm. (Interestingly she has been a teacher and a special education director. )
Here's a link to the WBA's complaint area.
I would be sure to let the WBA know that Ms. Hruska has a background in public education.
The lawyer for the district is Andrea Schiers, Senior Assistant General Counsel. (You might note that her former firm, Curran, is now the law firm handling this case.) The lead counsel for the district is Ron English.
At the Department of Education:
The mission of the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) is to meet the needs of the Department's primary customers--learners of all ages--by effectively implementing two laws that seek to ensure student and parental rights in education: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA).
Parents and eligible students who need assistance or who wish to file a complaint under FERPA or PPRA should do so in writing to the Family Policy Compliance Office, sending pertinent information through the mail, concerning any allegations to the following address:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-5920
Phone: 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327)
You can, of course, write to the School Board and complain.