Dear Silverbrook ES: A Public List of Students Who Take Medicine is Not a Good Idea

Silverbrook Elementary School (SES), in Fairfax Station, Virginia, has a history of sharing personally identifiable information about students, which is a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

On at least two occasions, since 2015, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has provided SES “FERPA/confidentiality training”.

Looks like SES needs more.

Worried About Hackers? FCPS has Been Breaching Students’ and Staff’s Privacy for Years

For years, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been aware of its failures to secure private information.

Hackers breaching its system is another breach in a long line of privacy breaches and failures to secure information.

This evening, news outlets reported that the hackers posted private information about students.

And yet . . .

FCPS has been releasing information about students—without their permission—for years.

Silverbrook ES Principal Advises Staff Member: “No Paper/Email Trail”

Fairfax County Public School (FCPS), VA, Principal Melaney Mackin advised FCPS School Psychologist Michael Borsa not to respond to a parent’s questions via email. She specifically stated:

“I suggest that you do not email your reply to her questions (no paper/email trail)”

This occurred after the parent shared a private evaluation with the school.

The parent went into the meeting thinking she was providing information that would help the school division address her child’s needs, only to learn later that the principal focused on “paper/email” trails and the psychologist had no intention of responding to her.

FERPA Violation: Willow Springs Elementary School Students’ Privacy Violated

While FCPS has inadvertently provided me information about dozens of other FCPS students and staff, I’m not alone in this dubious honor.

The documents below were given to another FCPS parent and include information about children other than her own. She didn’t ask to receive this information. FCPS provided it to her in the course of providing other documentation to her.

FERPA Violation: Silverbrook Elementary School Students’ Privacy Violated; Behind the Scenes, Choosing Students to “Enrich”

I didn’t request this document.

Fairfax Public County Public Schools (FCPS) provided it to me in response to a FERPA request.

FCPS redacted the names marked in black, but failed to redact almost another dozen names. I redacted those, before posting the document here. They appear as blank spaces in the document.

Between 2016 and 2020, FCPS has inadvertently provided me information about dozens of FCPS students and their families, and staff. I complain. The Virginia Department of Education (VODE) finds FCPS at fault for privacy violations, and then the noncompliance continues.

In addition to violating the privacy of these students, it is an interesting view of the “enrichment program” selection process.