Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Disclosure Rules are Changing (Salem, MA Schools, 'several dozen psych profiles')

A school psychologist’s records detailing students’ confidential information and personal struggles were accidentally posted to the school system’s Web site and were publicly available for at least four months.

The psychological profiles, some dating back more than a decade, contained children’s full names, birthdays and, in many instances, IQ scores and grades, the newspaper said. Some reports detailed information about depression, drug use, and physical or sexual abuse.

So reports the Boston Globe, “School psychologist’s student records accidentally posted online.” The Salem News, which broke the story, also reports that “School officials enjoy weekend as parents fret.” No, wait, that’s not the headline. The actual headline is “School officials to meet Monday on privacy breach:”

The delay did not sit well with some parents, who said they should not have had to learn from the newspaper that their children’s privacy might have been violated.

“I don’t understand why we weren’t notified,” said Diane Benyue, a parent who fears that her children’s files might have been posted. “It’s just very disturbing, and it would have been nice if we’d been notified before reading it on the front page of the paper.”

It’s a good thing these folks are public servants, and are addressing the needs of the public. If they worked for a private company, those parents might take their business elsewhere. The take-away lesson is that the rules around disclosure have changed dramatically since Choicepoint’s PR fiasco.