Poway Unified gets earful from angry parents over data breach

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POWAY, Calif. – Poway Unified School District officials received an earful from angry parents Wednesday during a meeting about  sensitive student information that was inadvertently released.

“This leadership is a joke – you need to get your act together," said one parent during public comment.

According to a letter sent to parents from Associate Superintendent Malliga Tholandi, an information request was made my an unnamed member of the community citing the Public Records Act.

“The information released did not include social security numbers; however, it included directory information and district-based test scores, some of which are protected information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act,” Tholandi stated.

Gaby Dow, a member of the district's Educational Technology Advisory Committee, said she made a public records request last month for information regarding her role with the committee.

About a month later, she received two CDs containing data of more than 36,000 students.

“And I just said, ‘what on earth is this? I saw first names, middle names, last names, nicknames and birthdates. Even grades, ages, student ID numbers," said Dow.

Parents hammered the school board for being careless with the data.

“We need to let parents know what you’re going to do about securing this information in the future. How are we going to respond to this?” one parent said.

Dow filed a complaint with the San Diego District Attorney's Office and it is under review.

PUSD administration has confirmed with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office that the released information has been secured.

“The Poway Unified School District takes the protection of students’ information very seriously.  Please know, as we investigate the inadvertent release of this information and work diligently toward ensuring it will not happen again,” Tholandi stated.

Anyone with further questions is asked to email Info@powayusd.com.

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