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Kanawha school system shares Social Security numbers of 44 employees with their co-workers

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The Kanawha County school system sent the Social Security numbers of 44 employees — including those whose jobs the county plans to cut — to most or all other Kanawha school workers Thursday.

Briana Warner, spokeswoman for the school system, said the privacy breach was an employee mistake.

She said the email was sent around 1:30 p.m. Thursday. All employee email accounts were shut down at approximately 2:15 to prevent the information from being forwarded.

“By mid-morning on Friday, the email was deleted from the server and county employee inboxes,” Warner said.

Jennifer Starks was among those affected.

“I know that it was an honest mistake,” Starks said. “The emails were automatically stopped and retracted as best they could, and it was definitely nonintentional. No harm, no foul.”

Another teacher who said he didn’t want his name published said, “Any time your Social Security number gets sent through a county email system, it’s definitely not great news. I really don’t know what happened or how it happened. I would assume it was an honest mistake. It was a mislabeled email, I think, that was not supposed to go out to everyone.”

“Things happen, people make mistakes,” he said. “Especially during a time like this, with the amount of information that’s needing to be passed to faculty and staff throughout the county, it’s not a real difficult thing to [mess up], I would think.”

West Virginia schools have been shut down for in-person classes since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Another teacher who also said he didn’t want to be named said, “First thing I did was checked my [bank] account and stuff to make sure.”

According to multiple sources, the email was mislabeled as being about coaching vacancies.

Warner said the school system is working with the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management, which includes the West Virginia State Privacy Office, “to determine the additional steps we need to take to ensure the affected individuals receive credit monitoring, and that the situation and investigation are handled in accordance with their process.”

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn, 304-348-1254 or follow

@RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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