Personal data ends up in wrong hands

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Personal data belonging to approximately 30 Clovis city employees inadvertently ended up on the backside of a Zia Elementary student’s homework assignment Thursday.

City Manager Joe Thomas said he was alerted late Friday afternoon after a parent turned the document over to officials.

Thomas said his office is investigating and believes it was an isolated incident and said city officials, “don’t have any indication that it’s a regular occurrence.”

The city made recycled computer paper available for the schools to use as “scratch paper,” Thomas said, in an effort to be environmentally friendly.

“A document that should not have been released made its way out of our control,” he said. “I have it in my possession now and I’m trying to follow up on how that occurred.”

The payroll report containing names, Social Security numbers and payroll deduction information of the more than two dozen employees included police officers, city administrators, finance and public works personnel among others.

“My name is on there as a matter of fact,” Thomas said.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said as soon as she was alerted to the issue by the principal at Zia, all recycled papers were pulled out of circulation in the schools and will be given back to the city.

“As far as we know, that paper was a fluke,” she said.

Clovis schools have found no evidence to indicate any other similar documents were handed out to students, she said.

Seidenwurm said teachers have utilized recycled paper from the city for years.

“To my knowledge, that’s the first time that anything of a sensitive nature at all has been inadvertently released,” Seidenwurm said. “I’m sure the city is horrified that that happened; I know I would be.”

“It’s a wonderful idea to recycle stuff. I guess in any organization there’s always a possibility that a sheet could get in that shouldn’t have.”

The recycled paper offered to the schools is most often printouts containing non-sensitive internal reports or public record items where a clean backside exists for use, Thomas said.

He said the affected employees will likely be notified even though it is believed the exposure was limited.

Meanwhile, Thomas said all city paper recycling has been temporarily halted.

“When you go through as many reams of paper as we do, invariably there’s going to be a glitch in the system somewhere. We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.