Superintendent to Review Confidentiality Protocol

School Committee asks head of Arlington Public School to ensure recent breach of student confidentiality doesn't happen again.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has been asked to review the district’s protocols on student confidentiality, after a school official showing approximate addresses of special education homes.

On Thursday, the voted unanimously to task Bodie with reviewing procedures that should be followed when a breach of confidentiality occurs at .

In November, after a when a redistricting map showed approximate homes of special education students. The map was distributed at a meeting of the schools Redistricting Committee, which is charged with figuring out new boundaries for individual districts to alleviate overcrowding at some schools.

Committee members were given black-and-white copies of several maps. One of them contained dots showing the locations of students, including one that showed where special education and non-special education students live.

The locations were unclear on the black-and-white map distributed to committee members but visible on a color copy released to at least one Arlington news outlet. The map was  at the request of parents.

On Thursday, School Committee member Bill Hayner, who proposed the motion, said protocols on record keeping of confidentiality as described the law need to be re-examined.

“Something has failed in this particular incident,” Hayner said. “I think that it’s important that we have assurance that protocols are in place and we need to reinforce it in such a way that this is not going to happen again.”

Bodie said the recent release of the map was “human error,” and reinforced that schools staff are trained in confidentiality issues.

“The way you said it might give the impression that the Arlington staff does not take confidentiality seriously,” Bodie told Hayner. “I really do not think that is the case.”

Hayner said there should be protocols in place so that “the word confidentiality is in every teacher’s head and every administrator’s head.”

“I need a reassurance form the superintendent to say that the protocols that we have in place are sufficient,” Hayner added.

The School Committee tasked Bodie with reporting her findings in January.


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