Richmond School Board member leaked disciplinary files to Medicaid vendor

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Some school board members want one of their own to consider resigning in the wake of confidential information being leaked.

School board member Tichi Pinkney Eppes  was pinpointed as the member responsible for the breach.  Pinkney Eppes compromised approximately 20 confidential student files, noted in a statement released by the school board.

CBS 6 learned those students are some of the most "vulnerable" in the school system and that they would have attended a disciplinary meeting sometime in the month of September.

Pinkney Eppes emailed student disciplinary files to a Medicaid vendor, a high-level ranking source told CBS 6.

That vendor alerted RPS administration officials, because they could not open the file. When the IT department was initially brought into the situation, they  thought the system had been compromised, or hacked.

"We would never, under any circumstances, release private disciplinary files to an outside company," said school board member Kim Gray.

Such files could potentially provide Medicaid vendors with a client list.

"We can not maintain the trust of the public if she remains on the board," said Gray.

All affected students will be contacted by their school administration.

Pinkney-Eppes maintains that she was attempting to help just one child when she inadvertently released more files.

"I have assumed responsibility in my attempt to help one child that I inadvertently released names (only) of other students," Pinkney-Eppes wrote in a statement.

"The Administration is following up with those parents.  It is very disheartening that matters that were discussed in the closed session of the school board meeting have been violated and breached for political sensationalism, as well. "

"Two wrongs don't make a right!" she concluded.

The matter is under investigation.

"It is difficult to believe," school board vice chair Kristen Larson said - questioning the accuracy of Eppes' version of events.

Larson told CBS 6 an internal investigation is presently under way and that the police have not yet been called.

"This is the most serious issue I have dealt with," Larson said.

"Student records are not public records," Bill Bosher, a former superintendent of Henrico and Chesterfield Schools said.

Bosher said the most damaging portion of the allegations is that if student records were in fact leaked to a Medicaid vendor, that vendor could have a list of potential clients.

"Student files not only contain education information but health information as well," Bosher said.

As of right now, the Board is not scheduled to meet until it's next regularly scheduled meeting as possible sanctions are debated by members internally.

Eppes declined numerous requests to go on camera.

The school board statement is below, in its entirety.

On October 6, 2014, the Board was informed of a breach of confidential student information by Board Member Tichi Pinkney Eppes.  We are very concerned about this breach of information and do not condone this action.  We are working closely with RPS administration to gather the details of the breach.  At the current time, we estimate that approximately 20 student records were compromised.  We are dedicated to fully investigating this matter to ensure that all student records are held to the highest state and federal standards of confidentiality.  We will continue to keep all stakeholders updated on this issue as public information becomes available. Parents of the affected students can expect to receive written notification this week from RPS administration and are encouraged to contact the Department of Academic Services at (804) 780-7700 if there are additional questions or concerns.

18 comments

    • thomas

      Interesting every few months one of the school board members involved in something illegal. They cover for each other.The police should have been call immediately. I know once the parents file invasion of privacy lawsuit she gone

  • reeltime

    So what was the purpose of mailing these records to a vendor? Was a procurement process taking place, which if it were, is outside the legal boundries of state and local law. According to an article in the RTD, Kimberly Gray and Kristen Larson stated to their knowledge the school system has not contacted any law enforcement officials about the alledged breach. If this is true the school system needs to immediately contact law enforcement to perform a thorough investigation to see what, if any, laws were broken and the intent of the individual in question. The school system is not an agency that has the expertise or authority to answer these questions.

    • John

      The story does not provide detailed information. For instance, did she email the records to a vendor that is responsible for improving grades and tutoring students? She stated her intention was to help these students. Perhaps she did something with a good thought in mind without realizing the release of the information was a violation since some vendors do have access to records.
      I guess we will have to wait and see.

      • reeltime

        Correct, the story does not provide the detailed information, that is why I am asking the questions. Also if her intent was to help students did see seek legal quidance (which is readily available to the school board) prior to mailing confidential information, That is why I believe an independent law enforcement agency should investigate to answer these questions and provide a transparent analysis, something this city is not well known for.

      • Manlishi

        Agreed. The fact the perps name is released without naming the vendor is suspect as well. Did his vendor request this info?

  • R Moffett

    Why did a member of the school board even have access to student records? Those should be available only to school administrators who need access to perform their duties.

  • Love the city, hate the government

    Another news outlet (Channel 12) has a much better written story and she is taking full accountability for her mistake. Not excusing what she did but her comments were pretty refreshing to hear. Go read that story instead of the National Enquirer style that WTVR 6 has decided to follow these days.

    • Jailer

      Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t McDonnell a Republican? Sorry, let me clarify…Bob McDonnell (R) Governor just convicted of about 11 violations of federal law. Let’s don’t forget Ken Cuccinelli that was neck deep in the bribe scene too.

  • NotAFan

    Well, don’t stop there. While public officials are at it, they should investigate Henrico County Public Schools, the ER staff and medical personnel at Henrico Doctors Hospital Parham & Forest, a couple of female physical therapists at Sheltering Arms Physical Rehabilitation Center on Maple Ave in Richmond, an organization, a few local doctor, orthopedic and dentist offices, and a few local private and government businesses. Yes, I named those for a specific reason from personal experiences. :-) In fact, you might want to look into investigating these organized business groups who meet to “share” and “network”…just a thought.

    Oh wait. I apologize. I’m sure those personal instances I vaguely referred to were all mere coincidences and nothing more than speculation on my part, as I was told. Surely, doctors, Henrico police officers, educators, elected/appointed officials and local business professionals in Henrico County Virginia don’t join together to attack certain individuals, WHICH INCLUDES CHILDREN, because they or someone in their group was outed.

    And here I am thinking we have child bullies because we have adult bullies holding professionally respected positions, and that if we rehabilitate the adult bullies, the child bullies will follow suit. Oh my. Forgive me. I guess that paranoia just crept up out of nowhere. Yeah. Where there’s smoke there’s usually a fire or the start of a potential fire. Someone confident, strong and reputable with ample authority who isn’t afraid to perform their duties though it may entail correcting members in their County or social group needs to check it out before it continues to grow and get out of hand. Kudos to Richmond Public Schools for taking a stand against one of their own.

    The “special” meeting Romney held was a perfect example of how “certain people” meet to uniformly plan a specific and organized “personal attack”. Oftentimes, they secretly meet to plan these attacks on others who have offended someone in their group by “telling the TRUTH”. They also seem to plan a personal attack when one doesn’t act or react the way “they” prefer i.e. by disclosing questionable findings/experiences regarding one of their own. How dare “you” question them. lol

    Those kind of people seem to stick together. They seem to cover for one another because, apparently, if they all say the same thing it sounds more credible to the public. They seem to think what others don’t know won’t hurt so if the act in question is swept under the rug, no one will know regardless of whether or not individuals and families have been negatively and greatly impacted by their selfish and ruthless actions. They seem to think to themselves, “If we hold certain professional titles and we collectively jump on the same bandwagon all saying the same thing, it makes us look honest and righteous…you know, because the majority in any given group regarding any given situation can’t be wrong”. lol

    Don’t be fooled by positions or statuses. Titles are just that–titles. If there is a problem, let’s deal with the individual or groups who just happen to hold such title(s).

    I suppose this young lady failed to receive the memo–evidently, the key to covering an indiscretion is to hold a secret meeting with like-minded associates to find a way to dismiss any negative implications regarding lack of character or abuse of power, and also to prepare one’s specific group concerning how to react if and when confronted even when TRUTH is staring one in the face {…my condolences, Ex-Gov McDonnell}.

    Does this type of action or reaction make you a little angry? If so, it should. That is, unless you are one of them.

    If you should ever find yourself in this position feeling angry and violated, remember to positively and legally use those emotions to channel your energy in the right direction. If I were you, I would do the following: Get prepared, log notes, relate respectfully and minimally as needed to the individuals in question, maintain hard copies to corroborate my experience(s), contact appointed officials to make them aware of the matter, maintain proof of both my contact, and communication with said individuals, be leery of the arrival of pawns disguised as new or old “friends/associates” who “look like me (same devil.different faces) ” or seem to connect with me in hopes of obtaining pertinent information from me on behalf of the accused, NOT give up, and, lastly, realize that if I experienced this, someone else has too. I’m not the only one. Again, that’s just what I would do if I were in that situation.

    Face it. Even observers of potential abuse victims are encouraged to tell someone trustworthy what appears to be happening so if necessary the abused may be safely removed from any dangerous situation. With that being said, don’t enable those in authority to continue abusing their power in certain positions by keeping silent. Just like bullies, these masked “professionals” continue this type of behavior because others allow it either by submitting to their ill-judged conduct or omitting their illegal and sometimes malicious actions.

    And if I thought the response of an official I contacted was questionable, I’d take the next step. Everyone answers to someone. Afterwards, I would prepare for the negative backlash as a result of hurting their pride. I know I hit the nail on the head when they lash out in anger at me or someone close to me and/or when they encourage their associates to do the same…*sigh*…and to think our tax dollars pay the salaries of some of these folks in exchange for providing the community with “professional services”. So, in essence, they work for us and we, therefore, have a right to expect a certain amount of professionalism regardless of their own personal feelings or the personal feelings held by those in their personal and/or professional circles.

    Everyone makes mistakes. Rational people understand this. But we also expect a genuine and direct attempt to correct any misunderstanding or injustice OR BREACH of PRIVACY to the best of one’s ability. When others are recruited to share or help spread the unfounded outrageous feelings of an individual or group, it can potentially backfire and make those involved look even more guilty.

    Although the law may not always rule in one’s favor, if a defendant has the truth, and knows it’s the truth, there is no need for anyone else to verbally agree because though it may take years, eventually, the indisputable truth will come out. :-) At the same time, if an accuser is attacked, has the truth and knows it’s the truth, he or she will RELENTLESSLY maintain his or her stance NEVER letting up…even if he or she has to fight alone. :-)

    FYI: Been there done that.

    It is no secret that people who have something to hide due to their unreasonable and sometimes unlawful actions go to great lengths to try to recruit the feeble-minded in helping to silence those who have the ability to expose them. However, good people of good character desire to be corrected and/or informed of a problem or a potential problem in order to handle such an unfortunate occurrence appropriately and speedily because they have or at the time of the incident, had Good Intentions. Only goodhearted, sincere and selfless people want this. Henrico County Virginia…you have a lot of work to do. But don’t despair. It’s doable. That is, if you so desire.

    P.S.
    To all those hardworking, sincere, gracious and respectful employees and business owners in Henrico County, Kudos to you, and THANK YOU for ALL you do!

    • stillnotafan

      correction…LOL…that is, “If you should ever find yourself in this position feeling angry and violated, remember to positively and legally use those emotions to channel your energy in the right direction. If I were you, I would do the following: Get prepared, log notes, relate respectfully and minimally as needed to the individuals in question, maintain hard copies to corroborate my experience(s), contact appointed officials to make them aware of the matter, maintain proof of both my contact, and communication with said individuals, be leery of the arrival of pawns (same devil. different faces) disguised as new or old “friends/associates” who “look like me” or seem to connect with me in hopes of obtaining pertinent information from me on behalf of the accused, NOT give up, and, lastly, realize that if I experienced this, someone else has too. I’m not the only one. Again, that’s just what I would do if I were in that situation.” :-D

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