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In software error, about 1,000 Chesterfield Schools students and staff members name were compromised in FOIA request
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In software error, about 1,000 Chesterfield Schools students and staff members name were compromised in FOIA request

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Merv Daugherty, superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools, visited Old Hundred Elementary in September 2019.

Nearly 1,000 names of Chesterfield County Public School students and employees were erroneously provided in a recent Virginia Freedom of Information Act request.

The school system became aware of the error last week after a citizen submitted an FOIA request for the district’s coronavirus contact-tracing list. The names on the list, approximately 575 students and 400 staff members who were potentially in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, were incorrectly not redacted.

“The citizen said they immediately destroyed the defective spreadsheet after recognizing the defect, and notified the school division,” Superintendent Merv Daugherty wrote in an email to the entire district Monday.

Since last March, school divisions are required by the Virginia Department of Health to maintain a list of names of COVID-19 positive students and employees for contact-tracing purposes.

The non-redaction of names appears to be an inadvertent software application error, according to Daugherty’s email.

“We are sorry that this technical error occurred, and already have taken appropriate steps to change our practice on how information is redacted moving forward,” Daugherty wrote.

Chesterfield schools immediately began investigating the concern after it was brought to its attention, Daugherty added.

Other redacted public records made available through FOIA are being reviewed at this time. For additional guidance, the school system is reaching out to the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Police Office.

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