BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — A school board in southwestern Michigan is investigating allegations that Whirlpool Corp. received access to student information.

Benton Harbor school board trustees passed a resolution Tuesday directing Interim Superintendent Patricia Robinson to report details of data electronically released to Whirlpool, the Herald-Palladium reported .

Compiling the information will take about two weeks, Robinson said.

Whirlpool officials began investigating the matter last week, said Jeff Noel, Whirlpool’s spokesman.

“The issue of privacy we take very seriously,” he said. “When we found out about it, we hired an outside law firm to look into it.”

Student information wasn’t given to the company itself but to a school district volunteer working for the company, Noel said. The volunteer received the information from school staff to contact parents of children who left the district to find out why they left, he said.

The information the volunteer received is permitted under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, Noel said.

The law states that school districts can release “directory information” to anyone without consent so long as parents were notified and given a choice to opt out. Directory information includes a student’s name, address, phone number, birthdate, attendance dates, and activities and sports.

The school board questions whether parents were offered an opportunity to opt out.

Noel said the board can expect a report from Whirlpool’s attorney about the issue soon.


Information from: The Herald-Palladium, http://www.heraldpalladium.com