The State Department of Education said Dove Public Charter Schools illegally obtained the names and addresses of thousands of Oklahoma school children.  The department said Dove then shared that information with a third party in an attempt to recruit new students to their school.

The State Department of Education has filed a lawsuit against the Dove Public School foundation and sent a cease and desist letter telling them to immediately stop using the information.

Last week students across the state started getting these recruiting letters from Dove Charter schools inviting them to apply for their new online charter school. The fact that the letters were addressed to the student’s full name and address set off alarms for parents.

“It concerns me for a variety of reasons,” said parent Kristen Caruso. “These people now know my daughter’s full name. They know exactly where she lives, they know where to contact her.”

The State Department of Education said once those complaints surfaced last Friday, they, along with Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) and Oklahoma Cyber Command launched an investigation.

In the lawsuit the Department of Education said they discovered Dove's superintendent, or another administrator used their "limited access affiliated with Dove Charter schools to infiltrate to the student information system" then extracted the information and gave it to a third party.  General Council for the Department of Education said the actions may be a violation of multiple state and federal laws.

In response from Dove Schools, Superintendent Dr. Ibrahim Sel said in a statement:

The following statement is from Dr. Ibrahim Sel, superintendent, Dove Schools

Last week, the Oklahoma Information and Technology School, a new virtual charter school operated by Dove Schools, mailed recruitment flyers to fifth- and sixth-grade students across the state. Dove obtained the names and addresses through Wave, an online database available through the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

We realize that our having access to such lists – and our subsequent mailing to that list – upset many parents and teachers. We respect each family’s privacy and did not intend to cause alarm. For that, we are truly sorry. The information was not shared with anyone else and has been permanently deleted by the mailing company.

It’s important to note there was no data breach; we did not hack into a system. It’s open to school officials statewide. In retrospect, the letters should have been addressed to the parents. We simply got careless.

We appreciate the Oklahoma State Department of Education for working with us to file this Temporary Restraining Order. 

Likewise, we appreciate the understanding of parents, teachers, and administrators. We have learned a valuable lesson.

 

The Department of Education said these are the first steps and this multiagency state investigation is ongoing.