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Pinellas guidance counselor compromises student identities

7:08 PM, May 8, 2012   |    comments
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TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - "Hello this is Clinton Herbic principal at Tarpon Springs High School," that's how the voice mail sent out around 7:30 Monday evening from Tarpon High School's principal begins. 

Clinton Herbic alerted parents of about 400 seniors to a serious mistake by the school's guidance counselor Liza Yockey.

Herbic says in the message, "The email inadvertently contains students' identification numbers in some cases is the same as the students' social security numbers."

"Why are they using social security numbers and not student identification numbers?" asks one mother who contacted 10 News about the mass email.  So as not to identify the student, 10 News is concealing the mother's identity. She says, "That information is now out there and our child's identification is now compromised."

Yockey was not available to comment but her principal says they both apologize for the mistake. "First thing you do is say you are sorry. We deeply regret it as does the guidance counselor. We take confidentiality extremely seriously and we made a mistake in this case," says Herbic.

The time stamp shows Yockey sent the email out around 10 Monday morning. Herbic says the list was originally generated by the district to Yockey explaining which students had applied for Bright Futures Scholarships and which are still eligible.

Herbic says, "When she forwarded the email she was not aware the attachment included social security numbers."

Around 10:30 Yockey tried to recall the message and another email an hour later asks that it be deleted. School district officials estimate the email with the attachment went out to about 400 students and their parents. They've asked them to delete the email but this mother says that simply isn't enough.

The parents of a Tarpon Springs High School senior who is about to graduate say, "If nobody deleted it's compromised for the rest of their life."

To ease some of the concerns of parents and students, Pinellas School District officials say they are enrolling students in an Identity Theft Protection Services. 

District officials say the school district will pick up the cost. It's a plan district officials say will help protect a student's credit history.

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