Personal data of 2,000 homeless DCPS students accidentally exposed


Max Karp

Two thousand DCPS students experiencing homelessness had their personal information publicly available online for six months earlier this year. The data included students’ names, ID numbers, schools, housing status, attendance record, and eligibility for Special Education and English Language Learner programs.

The information was mistakenly provided to Grosso’s office in a response to questions asked by the Committee of Education, which Grosso leads, during a performance oversight hearing. The data was published on his website on February 5. It was not until six month later, on August 9, that a community member reported the error to Councilmember Grosso’s office.

Student data of this nature should never have been provided by DCPS to the Committee as part of the performance oversight process,” a spokesperson from Councilmember Grosso’s office stated. Upon learning that the information was available on his website, Councilmember Grosso immediately removed the file and notified DCPS of the error.

In a letter sent to affected families, DCPS Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander apologized for the mistake. “Protection of student and family privacy is of utmost importance to DCPS and we consider this incident unacceptable. We apologize for this situation and want to assure you that we are taking steps to ensure a situation like this does not happen again.”

Interviewed students at Wilson were dissatisfied with the situation, feeling that it violated the privacy of their peers in DCPS.

“That was an invasion of [those students’] privacy and people should take responsibility for their actions,” said junior Julian Jacobs. Senior Jack Darnell agreed, stating that “the fact that [the spreadsheet] was on the website for so long is just irresponsible.”

DCPS is making changes to ensure sensitive student information is not shared again. “Moving forward, DCPS will ensure that our personnel are fully aware of proper protocols around sensitive information so that the privacy of our students and families is always protected,”  said DCPS spokesperson Shayne Wells.