Monday, November 17, 2014


I am seeking information far and wide on what parents with students affected by the data breach can do in terms of filing complaints.  I believe there may be multiple avenues of complaints about the district and at least one for the law firm.  I have no idea if you can sue (maybe for negligence?), so you need to get a lawyer to answer that question.

I am troubled that so many call this "a mistake."  Once maybe but more than once? Incredibly sloppy.  I still don't get that the law firm, when they got that data, didn't do a random check just to make sure it was redacted (if only to protect themselves.) I mean, isn't the district paying them to do due diligence?

Stay tuned and I'll let you know what I find out.

As for the John Hay/Interagency situation, an update from the Queen Anne View (bold mine):

Today we got word from Seattle Public Schools that the community meeting on the planned Interagency Recovery School will be held at John Hay Cafeteria on Wednesday, December 10th, 6:30-7:30pm.

All residents and parents are welcome to attend this community meeting – per the email we received from SPS, it is a community meeting, not a John Hay-specific meeting. The school will take over the Queen Anne Gym space kitty-corner from Johh Hay Elementary, so the John Hay PTA has been very involved in gathering feedback since we broke the news on the school.

Kaaren Andrews, the Principal of the Interagency Academy, contacted the John Hay PTA and stated that the Recovery School plans to open on February 2nd – not later this month, as originally communicated to us by SPS. However, if permits are obtained sooner, it will open before February. Sometime in November is likely the earliest date, pending permits.

If you have questions or concerns about the Interagency Recovery School, plan on attending this community meeting. SPS has asked for comments to be submitted by tomorrow, Thursday, November 13th.

Send your questions and comments to the following SPS contacts:

Kaaren Andrews, Principal of Interagency Schools for Seattle
Kari Hanson, Principal of John Hay 
Sue Peters, Queen Anne SPS Board Member 
Interim Superintendent Nyland 
Assistant Superintendent of Facilities Flip Herndon
John Hay Parent Board (compiling questions for the meeting)


Legal Issue said...

The district transferred data to a law firm. I'm not confident that the district needed to redact this information due to confidentiality clause related to client/attorney privledge.

Anonymous said...

Re: Interagency school at Queen Anne High School Gym ...

Where has this program been housed and what is making it move to the QA High School Gym? These students are *somewhere* today.


Melissa Westbrook said...

LI, good to know. I would say that makes it even worse.

I'd have to ask where these particular students are as Interagency has several small locations.

Po3 said...

RE: Interagency Recovery. I think this is a new program, not a existing program that is being moved. So the students may not be enrolled in any program at the moment.

It sounds like a program that is being created to address a specific need.

Anonymous said...

As I commented on the original post,I know the Buckley amendment and that the supreme court ruled it "usually" can't be used to sue. The only remedy is for the DOE to pull federal funding and in this case that's exactly what should happen as a friendly reminder.

In my opinion this situation is NOT "usual" due to the extent of the information,the repeated releases even after notification and the appearance of an act of retaliation against a person requesting/suing.

The district will need to prove that it had in place polices and systems to safeguard FERPA protected data plus that it actively enforced and audited those polices.

In 2013 there were at least 7 FERPA violations which the recipients timely notified the district of the violation.
The district did not take any meaningful corrective action to prevent and further inadvertent FERPA violations beyond in July implementing a policy chance where the requester own students PII would be redacted. It also appears the affected students parents in not receive notification of the release.

I don't believe the district can meet the test proving inadvertent error and in light of their current IDEA non compliance this just adds fuel to the fire for change at the top.

I think if any case could challenge the ruling you can't sue over FERPA this would be it.

connect thedots

More Info said...

" ... repeated releases even after notification and the appearance of an act of retaliation against a person requesting/suing."

This is hearsay.

"In 2013 there were at least 7 FERPA violations which the recipients timely notified the district of the violation"

Given the amount of FOIA requests being made to the district, 7 does not appear to be an excessive amount of violations. 700 or 7000 might be a different story.

Anonymous said...

More Info said..

"and the appearance of an act of retaliation against a person requesting/suing." "that's hearsay"

appearance: the way that someone or something looks. I don't think it hearsay, I think it's my opinion.

I also think it's my opinion, no wait it's common sense to take corrective action for even a single FERPA violation. The 7 violations are only the ones I know for a fact occurred. They are all related to SPED and to the current corrective action SPS is undertaking attempting IDEA compliance.

So what do yo think would be the threshold of FERPA violations before corrective action is mandated?

connect thedots

Anonymous said...

1. FERPA offers only one remedy--the withholding of federal funds.

2. No federal funds have ever been withheld for any kind of FERPA violation, even when the plaintiff did suffer damages.

3. I think the SpEd community would be better served by focusing energy on the delivery of FAPE.

4. I think the people who are interested in FERPA violations would be better served by looking at the third party vendors and the data sharing arrangements.


Anonymous said...

I might consider suing. I would like to get a real good peek at the SPS books and records. There's something seriously wrong at SPS. I've noticed every time there's a serious threat against SPS and by that I mean a case where discovery would allow citizens a real good peek under the hood SPS settles out of court. Smells real bad you see.

Pickwee Nathanael

Anonymous said...

It's not just SpED. SPS also repeatedly released to the media personally identifiable information regarding the Garfield rape case.


Charlie Mas said...

A few thoughts:

1) Perhaps the district cannot be sued, but what about the law firm? Maybe litigation wouldn't be successful, but it could lead to a settlement.

2) A mistake? As they say on the internet: "You had one job."

3) The District should exclude the firm from all future contracts.

Anonymous said...

It's really sad that the only recourse is to get federal funds taken away. That will only hurt kids. Suing the school district does not seem to get anyone's attention either. Has anyone else noticed that the main effect of the Garfield rape lawsuit has been a lot of vague ominous sounding threats that all field trips and special programs could go away because of "recent events"? We recently had a school district guy come to our school and say something to along these lines. Ugh, no, fix the problem, don't go around threatening parents!) Isn't there any mechanism by which to threaten the actual jobs of the people who are making the mistakes rather than further threatening the kids?

Gen Ed Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gen Ed Mom, there could be a way but see,as much as people love to complain that you can't get rid of a "bad" teacher, there are just as many difficulties getting rid of a bad principal or staffer.

A lot of the people who are at the top have contracts that would make it very difficult (if not expensive) to exit them.

When the Olchefske debacle occurred the financial person then got exited with a bonus. Nice work if you can get it.

Maybe internally, someone will be taken aside and talked to but we'll never know that.

Of course, we are operating on this was an oversight when it may not have been. It may have been a legal tactic that has now backfired.

Either way, don't look for anyone to lose their job.

The district thinks saying, "We apologize" covers it all.

Again, there may be multiple avenues for redress and I'm trying to get that information together.

More Info said...

As I see it, the district has a claim against the law firm.

NotBlackWhite said...

Wasn't the girl's family member acting as her attorney? What are the implications around this issue? Again, we're looking at attorney/ client confidentiality issues.

Things are always more involved than one might think.

Frankly, I'm having a problem with the girl's family member hanging onto the information. How do we know the information isn't being disclosed?

Anonymous said...

The family member is the legal guardian and granted the same rights as a parent preparing for an IDEA afforded due process hearing over lack of FAPE. There is no application of lawyer to lawyer rules involved here.

The law does not allow the district to send a 3rd party any PII of this type under any circumstances without permission of every affected student parent or guardian. Parents or guardians are not bound by FERPA, so the district has no leverage to force the return of an electronic document- I'm not even sure what that means.

These 3rd party law firms like to play hard-ball with parents. They use every procedural trick in the book to delay confuse and harass parents.

connect thedots