Parents of Chandler High School students were alarmed this week to find their teens’ Social Security numbers listed on back-to-school schedule letters that came in the mail.
The letters included the usual information: Name, address, class schedule. But under a new database meant to allow schools to respond quickly to emergencies, some letters mistakenly included Social Security numbers.
"We don’t want people stealing IDs," said Jorge Gaytan, director of information services for the Chandler Unified School District. He said he would investigate to be sure that all schools were excluding the Social Security numbers.
Most class schedules had only the pertinent information, Gaytan said, but he added that some Social Security numbers may have slipped through as district schools adjust to the new database.
Sharon Masi, whose son will be a sophomore at Chandler High School, said she was surprised to see his Social Security number on a form she said kids use haphazardly during the first day of school as they adjust to their classes.
"If he were to drop his schedule, anyone could pick it up," she said. "A typical teenager, he didn’t even realize. Once you’ve learned your schedule, how many just toss it carelessly aside?"
She warned parents to make sure the private information is scratched off forms that the students plan to use when school begins July 30.
The district’s student management system is meant to make student information more accessible to teachers and administrators, without having to search files in the front offices or a more archaic database. School nurses will be able to see at a glance the school medical records of students, while teachers and administrators will be able to know what kind of discipline students have had in the past.
Parents also will be able to access their child’s attendance and grades online using security codes when the database is fully integrated. The staff is receiving training on how to use the system over the summer.