Students' Personal Info May Be Compromised

July 10, 2008

By Dennis Ferrier

Parents in Williamson County are getting phone calls warning them that their children's identities may have been compromised.

Last August, a Williamson County school system employee mistakenly posted the Social Security numbers of some students on a private Web site.

Officials said that it's believed as many as 15 percent of students who were in the third grade through eighth grade in 2006 may be affected. This number is about 4,000 students that could be affected.

It's not clear if any of those Social Security numbers were misused.

The school system is investigating, and a representative said they plan to update parents within the next few days.

A phone message was sent out to parents late on Wednesday night.

Brentwood's Cynthia Badger said she couldn.t believe what had happened.

"I was livid. I was enraged. I was on the phone with every friend I could get in contact with letting them know this happened. It's just a rage," she said.

The story is still a little unclear, but it appears that Williamson County schools allowed one of its employees who is working toward a doctoral degree to use the database of Williamson County students, Channel 4's Dennis Ferrier reported.

Somehow, he uploaded the 4,000 names and Social Security numbers.

"There's no reason that he should have authorization to use my child's Social Security number," Badger said.

Williamson County Schools had no comment on Thursday because information was still coming, a representative said. An official said a mistake was made in the phone message left for parents and that the system doesn't want more inaccuracies.

Parents are asking why their children's information was allowed to be in a college students project and why it took the school system a year to reveal what happened.

"I don't know where you draw the line. They clearly didn.t contact us. Clearly that employee had no right, no rhyme, no reason to utilize those Social Security numbers and to secure those. There's got to be accountability, and I don't know what that accountability will be," Badger said.

Badger and her neighbors said they would like the school system to pay for credit monitoring for at least a year.

They said they also hope that the school board will step in and tighten the policy about student information.

Williamson County Schools Superintendent Rebecca Sharber said she'll answer questions on Friday.

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