Data Breach affects more than 30,000 students in Poway Unified

A parent asking for information about records containing her own name was surprised when she received a dataset containing 36,444 rows of information for everyone connected to the Poway Unified School District. The dataset included a range of data, from children’s names, addresses, phone numbers, hearing and vision exam results, to academic test results and parent’s occupations. Including parents, the data held information for about 70,000 people.

The District confirmed the mistake Monday afternoon, and reassured parents that the dataset did not contain Social Security numbers. The parent who received the data, Gabriela Dow, submitted the CDs containing the data to the District Attorney’s Office to report the breach.

Dow says she viewed the data on a computer that wasn’t connected to the internet, though she still worries for the safety of the private information. "PUSD leaders have no understanding of how data works," she said.

The data breach may cause problems under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects student information. Schools that violate FERPA risk losing their federal funding.

It is still unclear whether any of the families have been directly impacted by the release of the data. Dow, who sits on Poway’s technology board, hopes cybersecurity will become more of a concern for the committee and the school district.

Read more at the San Diego Union Tribune.


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