This story has been updated.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education notified parents this week that personal information about students was inadvertently sent to a reporter in February, education officials said.
District officials released an Excel file in response to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry from the Web site BuzzFeed, that included audited enrollment data about individual students and information about suspensions and expulsions.
Personal information was redacted, and the file was locked when it was sent, but education officials later realized that the file could be unlocked.
Briant Coleman, a spokesman for OSSE, said the information was only sent to one media outlet and that staff there agreed not to publish confidential student information. BuzzFeed referred questions to an online story BuzzFeed News published Thursday that said reporters there agreed not to publish confidential student information contained in the files.
The information that could be accessed includes names, dates of birth, grade levels, gender, ethnicity, special education status, as well as information about suspensions, expulsions and truancy status.
Officials said they are investigating the matter and working to improve security procedures overall.
In a separate incident, the same news outlet notified D.C. Public Schools earlier this year that personal information on special-education students had been publicly available online since 2010.
The personal data was included in training documents for special-education providers in 2010 and 2011. The documents, including one that was more than 300 pages long, were inadvertently posted to an internal Web site that was not secure, officials said. The documents included passwords for online mailboxes where documents, such as parent complaints and attorneys’ letters, can be filed and stored.
The site was shut down, and log-in information for the database was changed.
Clarification: Briant Coleman, a spokesman for OSSE, said Wednesday morning that the staff at BuzzFeed had agreed not to open the confidential files they had received. On Thursday, Coleman said that he had been mistaken and that BuzzFeed had actually agreed not to publish the confidential information contained in the files. This story has been updated.