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Sensitive student records found in dumpster outside Denver middle school

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DENVER -- In Park Hill, the new Smiley Middle School Campus is getting ready for classes to begin.  Yet amid all the cleaning up, someone threw out boxes of student records with all types of personal information including birth certificates.

When FOX31 Denver showed up at the school Monday morning, principal Kurt Dennis was out back doing some dumpster diving himself.  He told us he was checking to see what records were inside the roll-off Dumpster.

“We think some of our volunteers somehow mixed up the records with boxes of trash and dumped them in the garbage,” said Dennis. “We safeguard all student information but somehow a mistake occurred.”

A late-afternoon e-mail from Denver Public Schools said the boxes were "mistakenly discarded."

"We believe all of the records have been recovered, and they will be properly stored," the statement said. "We do not have reason to believe that any additional student records were discarded. We believe the mistake occurred as items in the building were being moved to prepare for the first day of school, and the individual involved in discarding the boxes was not aware that the boxes contained student records. We are investigating the matter and will respond appropriately to those findings."

DPS planned to alert parents about the mistake and said it takes student's privacy seriously.

In a letter the parents, the school said the mistake was "serious" and apologized.