Hundreds of Tarleton State University documents containing students' personal information were scattered across the intersection of Washington and Lillian streets Tuesday afternoon breaching a federal law that is supposed to protect student records.
The financial aid documents from 1997-98 contained the social security number, date of birth, federal PELL grant disbursements and other personal information of hundreds of former students.
Tarleton graduate Ann Davenport saw the documents blowing in the breeze and thought they could be a student's report for class.
"I discovered (the documents) had private information, students' social security numbers and dates of birth," Davenport said. "When I looked at it a little closer it was from when I went to school here."
She immediately called multiple university offices, including the campus control center and the president's office, as well as the Empire-Tribune just before 2 p.m..
The documents blew for about an hour more than 1,000 feet across Washington before a dozen grounds employees collected the papers around 2:40 p.m.
On Wednesday, the university issued a statement saying the documents that were retrieved have been secured.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of student's records maintained by an educational institution.
Students and former students can file a complaint with the Department of Education when a school doesn't protect information as required by law. No complaints were immediately filed, but Davenport still sees the incident as a breach of security.
"Who is it that was careless enough to let go of it or put it in a place that private information could just be strewn about?" Davenport asked. "There are plenty of people who want to take identities."
University officials are thoroughly reviewing the incident and all policies to ensure the security of all sensitive documents, according to the university's statement.