Judge rules APS student records to be released as part of cheating scandal investigation

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

ATLANTA - A judge ruled that the records of thousands of Atlanta Public School students could be released to prosecutors as part of the cheating scandal investigation.

Last week, a districtwide robocall was sent out to parents, notifying them that student records would be released as a result of a subpoena.

"The notice that went out was extremely broad and extremely alarmist that we are turning over student information," said attorney Daniel DeWoskin, who represents several parents.

DeWoskin filed an emergency motion requesting that a judge delay the subpoena. DeWoskin said parents who contacted him were concerned that students' private information would become part of public record.

"There is uncertainty, and whenever there is uncertainty, take more protective measures," DeWoskin said.

Some parents tell Channel 2's Rachel Stockman that they never even received notification about the subpoena.

"As a student I am very afraid -- the fact you guys just came out of nowhere with this and the fact that I'm graduating from middle school," said Christopher Finlay, a student at Kennedy Middle School.

"They should have sent me an email or notice information or given me a phone call," said his mother, Shanika Finlay.

In a court hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors assured parents that private information would be kept under seal.

The information that is subject to the subpoena includes APS student records from about 30,000 students who took a Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in 2009.

The records include those of students who were in the first through eighth grade at the time. Prosecutors said only names, dates of birth and student identification numbers would be released.

"These Georgia testing numbers, in and of themselves, will not give people access to secret information," said Michael Walker, who is an attorney with Atlanta Public Schools.

However, Walker admitted he was unsure of what exactly the student identification numbers could reveal.

During the course of the hearing, prosecutors also revealed that they had already obtained most of the students' records in 2012.

"No notice apparently went out last year when they already turned over this information," said DeWoskin.

Judge Jerry Baxter ruled that the prosecutors could obtain the information, so long as it was kept private.

But Baxter did express concern about the way parents were notified of the subpoena.