Student journalist exposes personal information leak on DeKalb County School website

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The DeKalb County School District confirmed staff members accidentally exposed the personal information of tens of thousands of students and employees on its own internal website.

That data leak was discovered by a Chamblee High School student who said he first reported it to the district back in March, then wrote about it in the student newspaper two months later.

“I was like, wow,” said graduating senior Keegan Brooks. “This is insane that the district has made all of this widely accessible to everyone.”

The leak was not accessible to the general public, only to those who have an approved login to the DeKalb County School District System, but that could mean more than 100,000 people might have had the ability to see it had they searched.

Brooks, who is the editor of the Chamblee High School Blue and Gold student newspaper, said the information included Social Security numbers, student transcripts, disciplinary reports and medical records.

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“You had to be in the school system to access this, but that is still like tens of thousands of students, more than 100,000 people over all with all the students and staff that make up the district,” Brooks said. “It is not as bad as it being publicly accessible, but it’s still egregious.”

The district released a lengthy statement confirming Brooks discovery and promising measures were being taken to correct the issue:

“(The DeKalb County School District) is aware of circumstances where isolated files with identifiable information were made available to staff and students. An internal investigation determined that improper handling of files by employees caused these conditions. If it is determined that stakeholders had, or may have had, their information accessed by unauthorized individuals, DCSD will promptly notify those individuals as required by law.”

DCSD went on to say it was reviewing its own internal protocols, fortifying internal data protection controls and increasing staff training.

Brooks said his story has become the most read story in the Chamblee Blue and Gold all year.

“We felt it was a very important story,” Brooks said. “People deserved to know how the school district was not necessarily fulfilling their obligations to students and staff in terms of data privacy.”

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