Schools Officials Secure Court Order Against Fairfax Underground
Fairfax County Public Schools officials were granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction mandating the online forum remove files with grades from Fairfax High School students.
Update 5:20 p.m.: Fairfax Underground founder and administrator Cary Wiedemann responded to the suit against him tonight on his website.
The full text of his response appears below.
As the order was issued without notice I was not provided any chance to respond to the school board's petition. I have a very limited time to file a Motion to Dissolve, and am currently exploring the merits of doing so, but as the injunction expires on January 4th, 2013 I may well abide by this temporary order and focus my efforts on ensuring the injunction doesn't become permanent.
In compliance with the injunction I am currently performing a full MySQL database backup to preserve all of the original records, as I need to modify the offending post in order to remove the content.
Wiedemann has created a thread in which he intends to post all communication with FCPS and the courts on the issue.
Original: A District Court has granted Fairfax County Public Schools a temporary restraining order/preliminary injunction forcing the Fairfax Underground online forum to take down data about student grades at a local high school.
Schools officials immediately asked Fairfax Underground founder and administrator Cary Wiedemann to remove the anonymous post as soon as it was discovered late Tuesday.
Wiedemann wrote an email telling FCPS officials in response, which said in part that the website "takes the security and privacy of its users very seriously, and routinely removes content that was posted specifically to harass or embarrass other users. The motivation for this post does not seem to be malicious, rather intellectually curious, and as such doesn't qualify for moderation based on a personal attack."
This afternoon, FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale sent this letter to parents announcing the issuance of a temporary restraining order and mandate that the post be removed from Fairfax Underground. (The court order itself, from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, is attached as a PDF in the media box to the right.)
Dear Parent or Guardian of _________:
I am writing to update you regarding the anonymous posting made to the online forum Fairfax Underground on December 18 that contained confidential information of students enrolled at Fairfax High School in June 2012. As I indicated in my letter of December 19, this information contained student names, student identification numbers, final exam grades, 4th quarter grades, and final grades for the 2011-12 school year, grouped by course. Home addresses, social security numbers, and other personally identifiable information were not included.
Today, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted our request for a Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary Injunction requiring that the data be removed from the Fairfax Underground website. A copy of the Order was provided to the owner of the Fairfax Underground website. He has notified us that the data will be removed from the website by no later than 5:00 pm today.
FCPS is committed to safeguarding student privacy and confidential data. We are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the data breach. If you wish to share any concerns or ask any questions, please email or call the Department of Communications and Community Outreach at email@example.com or 571-423-1200.
Jack D. Dale
Fairfax County Public Schools