Speaking of Gatsas, the mayor took some heat from former state GOP chair Fergus Cullen and city Democratic chair Mike Brunelle (the state party executive director) a few months ago after he spent $108 of taxpayer money sending out about 3,500 congratulatory letters to Manchester honor roll high school students.
But now comes 1st District U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, who recently “franked” from her congressional office congratulatory letters to students district-wide at a cost of $1,059.58.
But there’s a more serious twist. While Gatsas’ letters were given to the students at their schools, Shea-Porter’s letters were mailed to their homes.
We understand from sources close to Shea-Porter that the Manchester School Department provided the addresses and that some districts provided addresses and others didn’t. If a school did not provide an address, the letters were sent to the school to be distributed.
Manchester Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tom Brennan wants to know how the congresswoman received the addresses of the city’s students, which is personal information.
Brennan is taking the matter very seriously. He told the Granite Status he believes the disclosure of the addresses is a violation of the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, but, he said, “before I take any action, I want to be sure by our legal counsel that our assessment is correct.”
The mayor received only the names from a list regularly made public by the school department, but not the addresses.
Looking at New Hampshire state law:
I. The department of education shall, using federal funds only, implement and maintain a unique pupil identification system on a statewide basis that complies with the following requirements: (l) No personally identifiable information, including but not limited to name, date of birth, gender, or social security number, shall be provided to any person or entity absent a court order, and under no circumstances shall personally identifiable information be provided to any person or entity outside of New Hampshire. Any person who knowingly violates this provision is guilty of a class B felony and may be subject to involuntary termination of employment.
Class B felony, huh? What’s the punishment for that?
(2) Class B felonies are crimes so designated by statute within or outside this code and any crime defined outside of this code for which the maximum penalty, exclusive of fine, is imprisonment in excess of one year but not in excess of 7 years.
I wonder how those congratulatory letters began. “Dear student, now that you are 18, please remember who sent you this nice letter n the first Tuesday in November . . .”