Very angry! IEP etc given to another parent! Really need advice!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Mattsmom277, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I opened my mailbox this morning and recieved the following letter ( will type it out for you all). difficult child is technically in grade 11 at a local highschool.

    Dear Parent/Guardian

    As per usual practice, a list was emailed to a AAA Secondary School staff group email distribution list. This list included students name, exceptionality, IEP and medical concerns. The list was also placed in hard copy format in every teacher's mailbox. Your child's name was included in the list.

    A parent of a child, who is named on the list, obtained a copy of the document. At this point it is unclear how the copy was acquired; our investigation is ongoing.

    The BBB District School Board values you child's privacy. Several steps have been taken to control this information:

    - The BBB District School board determined that the document in question was only intended to be shared with te staff at AAA Secondary School
    - The BBB District School board has taken steps to retrieve the document electronically
    - The Board has restricted access to group email distribution lists
    - The Board has a confidentiality statement to all emails generated within our system
    - The Board is continuing the investigation to ascertain how this information was removed from the Board property
    - In addition, the Board is reviewing with all staff the importance of protecting information by practicing good data management strategies.
    - The Board is not aware of any other individuals obtaining copies of this list besides Board staff.

    For additional information, or if you have questions, please contact XXX at (phone number), Information Officer.



    Okay. What do I do? I am obviously calling this Information Officer. What all do I ask? I'm livid. How did the parent get it? Was it a hard copy or digital copy? Were copies made? How was the school made aware of the problem? Why "steps to retrieve electronicly"? Was it or was it not returned? Did a teacher goof up? Did a parent steal this information? Was it just my difficult child's information or ALL of the students with IEP's?

    I know to start with those burning questions but don't want to miss a thing. I'm going to call them later today when I put the fire out burning my behind and can talk rationally. I am going to write down verbatim what I am told and then I'm summarizing in a written letter what is told to me, with all underlying and remaining questions asking in writing and requesting in writing verification of responses I am given on phone etc.

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    WOW! How on earth did someone get a copy of an IEP? I cant imagine it going out by email because school emails should end in .edu and no regular citizen should have that email addy. I would be more apt to think that the IEP's got in some teachers mailbox and she messed up and sent them home with kids and some parents got ahold of them. Maybe she accidently sent home the whole folder by mistake in some kids backpack. Yikes!
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I'm possibly even more upset.

    Okay, so last Thursday the school was contacted by a parent. Asking why their childs information was part of this information packet, what the point was etc. After answering, school asked how they know about it to begin with. Parent says they have a copy. The family refuses to respond to how it came into their posession. It was investigated to where no teacher gave it to a parent or student. Obviously the school must know who is missing their copy, so possibly it was left on a desk or something and a student stole it?? But we have clear privacy laws here. Just like with doctors, these documents must be safely stored and unreachable or viewable by anyone else. Let alone left out where they could be stolen. The school board just kept saying that they have no idea how the family got this information/file.

    It was not a email. It was a hard copy. Of special needs designation, names, date of births, exceptionalities, etc etc. Every single special needs students information for the entire high school, which now also incorporates grades 7-8 as of this year. So 6 years worth of students at the largest local high school. Thousands of students meaning ALOT of special needs info. Including the students with HIV/AIDS. The family returned the document the following day. The staples had been removed, indicating the possibility that they copied the file.

    They insist that the privacy comissioner for the province, (from Toronto or Ottawa, I forget) has concluded that part of the investigation and applauded the way the school handled this???? UMMM .... The documents were illegally left out in the open to be stolen to begin with. A gross violation and the staff KNOW BETTER! Of course, this privacy comissioner travelled here and investigated and determined the school did nothing wrong between Friday and Monday? It is only Tuesday. This came to light Thursday although the school has no idea WHEN the file was actually stolen. So they could only have investigated for 2 days. But of course, they deem the school is not at fault in any way.

    So now the students are upset, those with special needs. Nobody knows if their info will be used by other students, how many students may have been told by this family etc about information in it. Are copies floating about now?

    The family was assured if THEIR child saw their name and took the file, no charges or suspension or anything would happen as their name WAS on there. So that should have loosened the families lips about how they got it. But nope. They won't say how. That tells me there is at least a chance that their child didn't take it. I have more questions than answers.

    I'm concerned about difficult child learning that at least one student, possibly more (or down the line, more) students, know about his disabilities. I know my difficult child. He would refuse to attend. I told the school board if that happens, I would back my difficult child and fully expect and demand the school board back his decision as well. Of course, they had nothing to say to that. I finally gave up. They will tell me nothing more, and hope that no private details get spread around and therefore hoping this will go away.

    I feel sick to my stomache. I was planning to not tell difficult child about this. But the school board stated that since so many parents got this letter, the students are talking all about it this morning at school. $%%##$@#$!

    difficult child will be home at lunch as always. I hope to goodness he hasn't heard about this, or doesn't realize it affects his information personally. I don't want to tell him. But if he asks, I won't lie to him. Its part of the bond we have based on honesty.

    I love how the teacher isn't named, nothing done except tell the entire staff to be smarter about how they handle documents that have legal obligations surrounding them.

  4. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I don't know what I would do? I would need to take a long deep breath so as not to rip someone a new one.

    Why would anyone need to have copies of this out and about? If anyone needed to see this it should have been set up in a meeting or the part they needed could have been printed off. I could never imagine why someone would need all of it?
    Ours are locked up in what they call the vault. Only the Director of Services has it and it is locked.

    I smell a lawsuit... taken on by all of the parents, especially if they are saying the School did nothing wrong?

    I imagine the emotional stress and trauma on the kids is something?
    What if difficult child feels he can longer go back to that School? That is nothing? BS

    I would need a huge deep breath! That seriously hoovers
  5. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Hoovers is the term :( :(

    Im so angry. Now I"m deeply saddened. difficult child is home for lunch. He's pretty torn up, the anger is starting, I'm trying to not let it build in him. Mostly hes devastated. He agreed to go to school this afternoon and be quiet, and just do his classes. Right now he just picked up the letter to read it. Gosh I hope he doesn't blow :(

    The documents were meant for all teachers to know the needs of students, even those not in their classes. I still say it is way over the top to include so much information for teachers who won't even teach our children.

    Regardless, that doesn't bother me much. However they do it, at least the teachers are made aware of the issues of their students.

    I'm livid that a teacher left this hanging around somewhere it could be taken. And the way the information officer at the school board spoke, you could tell they had lawyered up and were protecting their policies, school, board and faculty.

    Even worse, no apology in the letter nor in the phone call. No concern for MY concerns as a parent. No concern about what I know my difficult child's concerns would be.

    I can see a ton of issues now at this school for so many students.

    I'm taking deeeeeep breaths, having a coffee,and although I'm trying to quit, I'm having a smoke!
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is just bizarre. Why would a teacher...or teachers...who arent teaching a student need access to that students IEP or info on his medical information?

    This is like your employer's secretary gaining access to your health information just by finding a file on the desk of the HR office. Then copying it and sending it to the whole office!
  7. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    Just thinking outloud here but I wonder if there would be anyway to have the police talk to the family that had this. If it's suspected that the document was copied (since the staple had been removed) I wonder if there is any way to threaten them with a search warrent for possessing private and (to them) illegal documents?

    That's really all I can think of other than I would be ready to blow my top also. Hugs.
  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Oh, I forgot the best part. The "investigation" is over, so says the Information Officer at the school board. Because the family has refused to answer how long they had the file, how it came into their care, and if they copied it, the school has decided that no more can be done. Nice huh?

    The family was told if their child saw their own name and grabbed it via impulse, if it wasn't copied, and was returned, the child would not be charged, nor even suspended. The family had the perfect excuse to answer to this without fear for their child having problems over this. They choose not to.

    I asked if it WAS NOT their child, and if comes to the schools attention, would they pursue charges. The information officer said she did not imagine they will do so. I believe because it would put it into a court that a teacher left it accessible. It was not taken from the office mailboxes. There was no breach to secure areas. That much they did say. The only thing left was a teacher error and a theft. Again, nice huh?

    :( :(
  9. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Mattsmom you might think about calling your congressman on this one. Sounds like a lot of CYA going on .. and that despite the "investigation" being over, the school's procedures re disseminating IEP information needs to be revamped, big time.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    This is outrageous. They are not apologizing because that might look like an admission of guilt in court.

    I would get an attorney and get a class action lawsuit. For this I would fight like heck. Make it part of the terms that the student can be sent to any school you choose, public or private, anywhere, at the school board's expense. With NO pressure on you to choose a certain school or school. It should be awarded to all siblings because they WILL be teased/excluded for having a sibling with special needs.

    There is no need for teachers to have a master list of all students with special needs. If they don't have that student they don't need that info. Gym teachers, music, library etc people DO MAYBE need that list, but it should be at the discretion of the IEP team, esp if the child has had no problems in that class before. If a child has problems in that class then the teacher of 'specials' needs the IEP, of course.

    I really think a teacher who doesn't like IEP's or thinks students with special needs should not have help or be in regular classes gave a like minded parent the list. Call me paranoid, but the lack of cooperation sure gives me that impression.

    It could be a kid who is mad that a special needs student gets something different than they do, one who sees this as being unfair to him personally or one who is afraid of the mythical "short bus cooties" as some students in one of Wiz' fifth grade classes called it (yet another reason he refused to mainstream that year.) (Here the 'short bus' is a smaller school bus that children with special needs are transported in.)

    I really suspect they know a LOT more than they are telling, or at least a few teachers/staff know more.

    Get a lawyer. Find out some educational choices, esp schools that have lots of services for your difficult child and his needs. Then PUSH them to pay for this for the rest of his academic career. get in writing their agreement to pay for this in exchange for you not pursuing legal action or helping those who do pursue legal action.

    If it costs you in terms of having to take your son to a therapist, or paying for other things to help make it easier for him to go to school, then keep records and have your atty ask for reimbursement.

    Get a good lawyer. ASAP.

    difficult child is right to be hurt and furious.

    I am so sorry.
  11. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks everyone. I'm going to have a long think about who the right contact is to try to get more information about this. I also think time will show if this stolen information is going to be abused or not. Gosh I hope not.

    difficult child is pretty darn ticked. I can't and don't blame him, although I'm trying to keep him from raging as opposed to having emotions about it, I know you all know what I mean.

    He is pretty worried about people knowing his business. I think he's more upset about the possibilities for more vulnerable students in terms of safety for them if this was used in a bad way against them.

    I'm clinging to hope that this is not in the hands of someone with malicious intent. Trying not to conclude without evidence that this will or may happen. It still however does not change the gross negligence of the teacher, whoever it is. Yes they are all human, however like a doctor with medical files, they know it is their JOB to protect these documents and never leave them accessible.
  12. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I'd be furious, too. And I'd be screaming at the next board meeting, to the superintendent, to the County Office of Education, to the State Commissioner of Education...until I got an answer. And if I didn't like their answer, I'd keep screaming.

    Would the local news be interested in a story of how the school district can't protect students' private, confidential information?
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Matt'smom, my initial reaction on reading this was, The school has done the right thing in letting you know and in immediately beginning a detailed enquiry. MY reaction, on receiving their letter, would have been to of course be angry that this happened, but work WITH the school to faciliate an enquiry.

    HOWEVER - as I read on, it becomes increasingly apparent that at some level someone has said, "Stop this! You've let out a huge cat out of this hessian sack."

    Somehow this family got the document. WHY did this family then contact the school? Was it nyaah, nyahh? Lookie what we found? Or was it ourtage, like yours, that their son's details were so freely available? For this family to have been met with, "HOW did you get this? And for them to not give the easy answer - tells me, asi ti does you, that the easy answer is incorrect. It also tells me that this family has more integrity than they're being credited with.

    My theory - someone at the school was similarly outraged at the accessibility and photocopied this for the family (or perhaps someone in the family is a parent volunteer at the school, or was passing through, saw it, grabbed it quickly to copy then put it back before its absence was noticed?). I can tell you that at our local school there are staff members (teaching and noon-teaching) who have said and emailed some very horrible things at times, including making personal attacks on me and on friends of mine. These statements NOT official form the school and not sanctioned by the school.

    This is difficult. We are talking about the School, as an entity, and as such I don't think the school has done anything wrong (other than to not safeguard the information). But individuals at the school HAVE done things wrong - they have not looked after confidential information put in their care; they have tried to cover up things done wrong; they have tried to pay down the whole thing as "it's not a big deal".

    But this IS a big deal, if the kdis are upset. Even more than the parents, the kids should NOT be disadvantaged by this in any way. I suspect that the distress in the kids could be grounds for legal action (which is why the attemtps are so strong, to hose tihs down).

    The other family themselves are not the problem. How they got the information - THAT is a BIG problem.

    As to why the information was so broadly disseminated - we had problems with other school staff who did not know difficult child 3 well, when they had incidental dealings with him. A teacher put on relief teaching, a teacher form another class who temporarily was left with difficult child 3's class as well (being escorted to the school hall, giving difficult child 3 instructions which conflicted with ones previously given by his class teacher, which led to the rest of the school having to be evacuated from the school hall because difficult child 3 was in full rage and throwing furniture around). Other teachers who disciplined difficult child 3 for trying to do what he had been told he must do. There were things in difficult child 3's IEP that these other teaches should have been told.

    The trouble with not telling - you get problems like we had. The trouble with telling - every chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and the more people you tell, the more leaks you get in the confidence. The more chance it WILL get out.

    WHat has to happen here - THIS damage is done. But POLICY has to be formed as a result of this. How should staff be informed in the future? How to inform them and still ensure cofidentiality? And what can be done NOW, to ease the pain of ALL the kids involved?

    If this enquiry is simply closed now, with no real recommendations, then this pain is all for nothing. But if something positive can come out of this pain that can prevdent other kids being similarly hurt in the future, that can be some consolation.

    There needs to be more communication, there needs to be a follow-through.

    This enquiry should NOT be closed. If it is, then you need to take this further up.

    Is there any chance you could collaborate with this other parent? Or have circumstances made you both poles apart on these issues? Some difficult child parents can collaborate, some cannot. Some are wild cards, some are plodding conservative workers. Some are in the middle.

    I'd be putting your concerns and distress in writing, especially pushing the "How can we improve procedures for the future to ensure good dissemination of vital information but still make sure this massive breach of confidentiality doesn't happen again?" and send the letter with cc's on the bottom, right up the chain. Go for the lot on this, especially if you get something in writing form the school saying that this enquiry is now closed. If you get that letter - attach acopy to your own letter and send it striaght to the Minister for Education (I'm assuming you're in Canada?). If you get no satisfactory response, then send the package again, to the Opposition spokesperson on education and the media.

    But be prepared for the limelight that could result. This will require a follow-through (which it sounds like the other family were not prepared to do).

  14. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey! Why not call 20/20 or Primetime Live and see if they're interested in something along these lines? Most of these things get blown off or swept under the rug.

    Just a thought!

    Feel better - I'd be smokin' mad too!

  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Whatever you do, t hink it through. Don't do or say anything on angry impulse. Instead, if you can control and focus your anger (like light through a magnifying glass) you can use it to great positive effect.

    When I am this angry, I draft my message while anger makes me fluent, then I sleep on it. Literally. In the morning when I am a little calmer, I re-read it and usually by then I feel more in control, so I can handle the flak that begins once people receive my message and start calling me to try to sort it out (or object to my allegations).

    Also, keep notes. Way back when I first joined this site, I was strugglnig with some serious problems with difficult child 3 in mainstream; problems especially with the regional dept of ed. At the time I was not able to make waves past acertain point although I did try. They successfully swept their misdeeds under the carpet. But now - a surprising opportunity to raise the topic has presented itself, I have been asked by a reporter to describe some of the problems I have encountered with inappropriate or lack of support for difficult child 3 in mainstream education. And because I have kept my notes, kept the Communication Books, kept my emails/letters/faxes - I have AMMUNITION. If this goes ahead, it will hit the prime-time current affairs television nationally. And I will enjoy every minute of it.
    Hey, I even have my minutes of phone calls I received from dept of ed regional (by the way, they don't deserve upper case initials).

    Anger can get in the way. But it can also be a positive force for change. It all depends on how you harness it, like nuclear energy. Just make sure you don't go critical and get buried under fallout!

  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    One interesting thing...Suddenly in the past month to two months, our local CNN and HLN news shows have become completely enamored with Special Needs kids and how they are being treated in schools. They have done several episodes about restraints being used, teaching methods that arent working, timeout rooms that are nothing more than closets...and their misuse. I am pretty sure you get these shows. Or something like them. Maybe think about contacting them.

    I have wondered if someone on one of these shows has a special needs kid who got mishandled at school because I cant think of why else it would suddenly get all this attention.
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The media is always about what sells to the public, what gets ratings up. So it's not necessarily someone on staff with an axe to grind. It has to be able to sell advertising ratings too.

    It helps to never lose your cynicism.

  18. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    When giving my opinion on this, I ditto everything Susie said - her post expressed my feelings on this.

    There is a serious need for procedures to be revamped and unless and until those negatively impacted cause a stink about it, I don't think it will happen. Confidentiality is a huge issue here. Who knows how many difficult children are feeling vulnerable and "naked" because of this and who is to say what effect this will have on their ability to function optimally at school.

    I would be livid. I would be calling the chairman of the school board to address this issue at their next meeting (if you khow other parents of kids with IEPs, get them onboard). I would be asking that person you contacted (sorry can't remember their title) what they are going to do about the fact that staples had been removed from the original - sounds like perhaps they shouldn't have let that slip!

    I would take this as far as possible. I would be livid as well. I would highly consider contacting a lawyer.

  19. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Get a lawyer that specilized in educational law. I know that when I was teaching our mailboxes were accessable to many sudents and aides and definately not secure. Also back when I substituted regularly I was given the keys to the teacher's desk and files and student IEP documents were in there.

    Even more appauling I was told by some students that they were frequently given access to the teacher's desk because she kept certain expensive supplies in there that were rationed out as needed. I was very unpopular because I would not allow this and made the students wait until I could get them for them.

    So I can see that it could be extremely easy for a kid or volunteer parent to get hold of a "classified" document.

    Also the teacher I subbed for let her students use her computer and she kept her password in a book in her desk drawer which was not locked at all times.

    Another scenerio is that volenteers are often assigned office duties like photo copying. It could have been leaked this way. I guess my point is that "security" is lax or non existant and that needs to change. Untill someone makes a big stink it won't so I vote for a big stink. Get the other parents on board and make it a heated issue that the school must respond to in a more satisfying manner. -RM
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You might take this over to Sp Ed to get some of their ideas on this. They usually have excellent advice and are a lot of help.