Houston ISD investigating how students' personal documents ended up on the street

Daniela Hurtado Image
Wednesday, June 7, 2023
HISD looking into how sensitive documents wound up in street
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Student records were found scattered on the road, outside an elementary school. Now, the district is trying to figure out how the documents got there.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Several students' records were found scattered on the road and sidewalks outside an elementary school in southwest Houston on Tuesday. Houston ISD is now working to learn how paperwork with personal information like student addresses ended up there.

Documents like report cards, folders of completed field trip forms, parent phone numbers, and students' personal information ended up outside Red Elementary School in the Willow Meadows area.

Decades-long educator Cullen Hemenway lives in the area and saw the documents during his morning run. So, he called HISD police and the school. Hemenway says he picked up what he could and stored piles of these school documents in his trunk for safe keeping.

"I came across another stack of papers across the street. When I stopped and took a look at, it at first I saw permission forms for a field trip, but it turned out I saw report cards, nurse's room notes," Hemenway said.

Some residents in the Willow Meadows community are questioning how this happened.

"I'm a teacher, and I'm aware we need to protect student information. That is protected information, and it was just out publicly. I would not want my child's name, address, and their grades out for public consumption," Hemenway, who teaches at another district, said.

HISD representatives told ABC13 on Tuesday that they're looking into it. They say school administrators don't know how the paperwork flew onto the roads and say it could've been students.

Hemenway says he thinks educators were getting rid of files since it's the end of the year, but it's a mystery how they ended up on the road.

"I don't know what their policies are. The school where I work, we shred everything. We would never throw away a report card. It would get shredded," Hemenway said.

Then on Wednesday, HISD sent ABC13 the following statement:

"The Houston Independent School District is aware of the incident involving school documents from Red Elementary School. Please know that we take these situations very seriously as the privacy and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. The district has a strict policy on the proper disposal of documents that every campus must follow. Those policies can be found on our district website. We are still looking into how these documents were released."

According to HISD policy, the district shall protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information in collection, storage, disclosure, and destruction of records.

As for who or what put the papers on the roads and yards outside Red Elementary, it's a question people in the community and the district are looking into.

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