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N4T Investigators: Confidential information - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Confidential information

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Tucson "The first thing that came to my mind was, 'how could this have happened?," Mary Martinez said. 

The President of the Sunnyside Education Association wants to make sure the school district doesn't make the same mistake twice. Martinez is talking about the accidental attachment to a memo the district's human resources department recently sent all 18-hundred employees. News 4 Tucson first reported the breach last month, but we wanted to find out what the district has done since then to prevent a repeat.

The memo, sent on March 3, was supposed to be routine; it  was about contracts for the next school year.  Attached was a spreadsheet which contained confidential information, including the salary and social security number of every district employee for all of them to  see.

Martinez told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "When we found out what that information was, it was like, Oh my gosh, what do I do now? As an individual, how do I insure that my information didn't get into the wrong hands?

Dr.  Debra Bergman is in charge of Sunnyside school human resources department. She said her first reaction to the mistaken attachment was, "I was kind of like in shock that something like this could happen." Bergman says one or two unidentified employees, instead of attaching part of the spreadsheet, attached the entire thing. "It was a mistake, and we're correcting it," Bergman told us. 

Twenty minutes after the attachment was sent, someone alerted the administration and all district email was disabled. But by then, more than 500 staffers had opened the attachment. "It should not have been attachable, it should have been separate," Bergman said. "It shouldn't have been even in the file with the information that was to be sent."

Martinez said, "We are talking to the district, we constantly are talking, and we're asking, 'OK, what is the district doing? What have you guys done?' What are we doing as a district to insure that this doesn't happen again?"

We asked Dr. Bergman that very question. She said, "We  have removed any confidential information from anybody's file that should not be in that file. 

Within a week of the mistake, the district gave all employees free fraud protection for a year, made technical improvements, and is in the process of switching to a new computer program. Bergman said, "We put systems in place to insure that it doesn't happen again."

Bergman said any possible disciplinary measures against whoever sent the attachment would be determined by the school board. 

Dr. Bergman says the free fraud protection program for all Sunnyside employees may be extended beyond a year, to two or three years. The school board is expected to vote on that in the near future.  

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444. 

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