Deans’ office aide had access to students’ discipline files

Audrey Guerin, Staff Writer

Each year, DGN students from every grade receive the dreaded marigold deans’ pass.
The delivery of this pass in front of their entire class is traumatizing enough for students, but little do they know that one of their peers may have seen their personal information regarding the reason for and results of this pass.

When students are sent to the deans’ office at DGN, a report is filed that goes on their school record. After that report is written by the dean, it is passed on to the deans’ aide.

This student has the responsibility to file and organize detention slips, suspension slips and, very rarely, an expulsion slip into personalized folders.

The student aide also creates files for students who are seen in the deans’ office for the first time.

“If someone hadn’t already been written up, I would have to make them a file,” 2018 grad and former deans’ aide Bella Cotterell said. “So obviously I had to read their names to file since that’s how it’s organized.”

After The Omega started researching this story, the deans’ aide position that had previously filed confidential documents was eliminated. No longer do students file or have access to disciplinary records in the deans’ office.

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, schools are required to have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record.
This means that no third party member is eligible to have access to any personal information about the student including their name, school ID number, or any behavioral information.

“I do not believe FERPA is compromised and I do not believe any student has “full access” to any other student records,” Associate Principal Kelly Zuerner said. “I am reviewing any practices in the Attendance and Deans offices to ensure our protocols are being followed.”

Neither parents of the student, nor the student, were asked for permission before an aide filed their paperwork.
“There is that aspect of availability to look at another student’s private information,” Cotterell said. “But I did have to sign a confidentiality form so it is not like I could go around spreading things.”

Cotterell remembers signing a confidentiality agreement made specifically for this job. She had to sign it before she was able to file away any student paperwork.

The Omega asked the district for a copy of this agreement, but was told the document did not exist.

Cotterell did not see the harm in her job, but other students have different opinions on the topic.
Senior Jaye Sevcik works as an attendance aide in the deans’ office.

“I do see the deans’ aide filing papers when I am aiding. It happens and makes me uncomfortable that one of my peers has the ability see my personal information, because I wouldn’t want anyone spreading stuff around if I had done something,” Sevcik said. “My parents would be upset if they knew because it should only be dealt with by the administration and have no possibility to get spread around.”

Cotterell isn’t the only one who has previously taken on the job.

DGN alumna and deans/attendance department award winner Alyssa Alberti also filed for the deans during her free period.

“I remember sorting slips for students who walked out for the shooting protest,” Alberti said.

Detentions were given out to students who walked out in protest after the Parkland shooting last March. Alberti never signed a confidentiality agreement.