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Private school’s bankruptcy liquidation unearths unsecured student records

Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer Bryan W. Stone of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?”


The private Wisconsin International School once boasted enrollment of some 800 students in its International Baccalaureate Primary program. Parents paid yearly tuition of anywhere from $10,000 to $29,000 to send their children to the school.

Abandoned School Charlotte Bankruptcy Lawyer North Carolina Chapter 7 AttorneyBy the time Todd Thiel became head of the school’s board last year, however, enrollment had dropped to just over 100 students and one look at the school’s financial books, Thiel said, showed the school was out of money.

Ultimately the school declared bankruptcy, filing for a Chapter 7 liquidation. Aside from $20,000 in cash, the school listed certain supplies contained within a rented school building as assets—including 18 filing cabinets. The school’s liabilities totaled around $550,000. Parents who paid tuition did not expect to receive any of their funds back.

After the school filed its bankruptcy petition, attorney Paul Swanson was appointed to serve as the bankruptcy trustee. His first task was to gather up any assets belonging to the school. Last fall, he told Green Bay’s Action 2 News, he went to the school’s De Pere, Wisconsin campus and retrieved student records—including a server containing the records and data of then-current and former students.

The records are not assets—they cannot be sold or converted into a profitable use by a buyer in the manner that, for instance, customer lists may be. Instead, the records contain private data about students and parents that—pursuant to a bevy of local, state and federal regulations—must be protected and kept secure.

That is not exactly what happened with Wisconsin International School’s student records. Nearly a year after the school’s closing, records containing sensitive data about students are still being found—mainly by purchasers of filing cabinets sold at bankruptcy auction.

No one is certain whose fault the shoddy record-keeping is, and the bankruptcy trustee told the Green Bay Gazette that he believes the discovery of student records by file-cabinet purchasers were isolated incidents.

One woman who purchased a filing cabinet from at the school’s bankruptcy auction found some records of former students and turned them over to Swanson.

A nearby public district—the School District of West De Pere—also bought a file cabinet from the closed Wisconsin International School. Recently the file cabinet was cleaned, and more student records were discovered. The records included “student applications, tuition and immunizations records and report cards.”

The school district sent a letter to parents of students whose records were found to see if they wanted the files. If parents fail to respond to the letter by March 31, the school district will destroy the records. In the letter, the school district said it was shocked that records containing sensitive student data had not been protected.

If you find yourself needing the services of an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina bankruptcy attorney, please call the skilled lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC find additional resources here. As professionals who are experienced at handling all kinds of bankruptcy matters, our attorneys will provide you with the best advice for your particular situation.



About the Author

Bryan 1Bryan Stone is a Partner with Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on all aspects of bankruptcy, including: Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 13, home loan modifications and landlord-tenant issues.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Mr. Stone attended the University of Georgia, where he earned a BBA in Banking and Finance, and Wake Forest University School of Law, where he obtained his law degree.

Following law school, Mr. Stone relocated to Charlotte, where he currently serves as Chair of “Bravo!” – a young professionals organization associated with Opera Carolina – and founded the University of Georgia Alumni Association of Charlotte.

In his spare time, Mr. Stone enjoys perfecting his barbeque skills for the annual “Q-City BBQ Championship” and playing softball in the Mecklenburg County Bar softball league.









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