Parents Demand Answers in Poway Records Release - NBC 7 San Diego

Parents Demand Answers in Poway Records Release

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    Poway Unified School District notified parents on May 16 regarding the accidental release of student education records.

    Several parents demanded answers Wednesday from Poway Unified School District trustees regarding the inadvertent release of student education records.

    "Why can’t you talk to the public? This leadership is a joke," Jeff Riley asked the board in the special session. The U.S. Navy veteran was angry when he learned it was 10 days before the district notified parents of the breach in security.

    "What was released and what wasn’t? We still don’t know that," Riley told NBC 7. "They’re not specifically saying what was put out there."

    Parents of PUSD students received an email Monday alerting them that the records were released accidentally.

    Associate Superintendent Malliga Tholandi said the records handed over under a California Public Records Request Act included directory information and district-based test scores. No social security numbers were included, she added.

    Gabriela Dow, a Poway parent and a member of the Education Technology Advisory Committee, said she wrote the CPRA after months of being denied information by the superintendent and staff.

    Dow told the board she has prepared a letter to the governor detailing the events leading up to her CPRA request.

    She also said her laptop containing the student education records has been delivered to the District Attorney’s Office.

    “One CD, one laptop doesn’t mean the information hasn’t already been shared in multiple places for years,” Dow said.

    Several other parents demanded the district inform the parents with how they plan to make sure a similar release of data doesn't happen in the future.

    “My expectation as a parent and someone who is a taxpayer in this community is that there would be a thorough audit on where this information has been released,” said Melissa Lazaro.

    Following the closed session, the board said it will direct staff to move the handling of CPRA requests in house as of May 18.

    The board also wants a detailed description of events that can be released to the community.

    A spokesperson said that information "will be forthcoming ASAP." 

    The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, May 31 at 6:00 p.m.

    The records were released under a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. By state law, public agencies must provide records on request to anyone who wants to inspect the records during office hours. There are some exceptions to this rule like birth or adoption records or attorney-client discussions.

    However, there is also a federal law that protects students’ education records from being released without a parent’s written permission.