Lauren FitzPatrick reports:
Confidential information about Chicago Public Schools students — including medical conditions and dates of birth — was kept on unsecured web documents that anyone could call up despite laws and CPS rules that are supposed to safeguard children’s privacy.
Some of the personal, identifiable information involved requests for certain ongoing nursing services for students that are handled through a private CPS contractor, RCM Health Care Services.
The services included such things as making sure students got doses of medications they regularly take, doing blood-sugar tests on diabetic children and maintaining breathing and feeding tubes.
The shared spreadsheet containing the information was viewable online until recently.
The breach also included special education students’ names, identification numbers and other information that’s supposed to be kept confidential but was viewable in payment records that were posted on CPS’ website. That included the type of special education services being provided, which covered a wide range, including speech therapy.
Read more on Chicago Sun-Times. If you’re a student privacy or patient privacy advocate, it’s pretty appalling.
And this was not CPS’s first breach involving student information.
- In May 2009, this site reported that confidential records had been found dumped in an alley.
- In December 2013, this site reported that data collected about some 2,000 students who participated in a free vision examination program was viewable on the Internet.
- In May 2015, this site reported that CPS mistakenly shared personal information of 4,000 students with five vendors seeking to do business with the district.
- In November 2016, this site reported that a CPS employee improperly released some students’ information to the Noble Network of Charter Schools.
And those are only the breaches that this site became aware of – there may have been more.
So how ironic is it that this newest breach – discovered by the Chicago Sun-Times – came only
two days after Forrest Claypool, the city schools chief executive officer, assured school board members discussing the privacy of students’ citizenship status on Wednesday that, “when it comes to keeping children safe and protecting their privacy, we will take a fierce stand.”