From: Ahmed Ismail
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2015 3:50:02 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Cc: School Board; 'Ismail, Mary Ann'
Subject: GPPSS--Senior Portrait Mailings
It is ironic to me that your email address is "firstname.lastname@example.org" as you certainly DON'T know anything about how direct mail marketing works or how any business builds their direct mail marketing lists. More important, my wife and I are so very disappointed that you felt it necessary to send the false accusations based on your lack of knowledge of the direct mail business to the school board without taking the time to simply pick up the phone and call me to find out how we build our mailing lists for our senior mailings. You know where to find us--you could have stopped by and simply asked and I would have been happy to relate to you what I will relate below.
First, the school system (to my knowledge) does not make their student lists available to anyone. As a board member, I have no way of accessing this information. I also didn't know that the GPN Parents Club made this information available to anyone. As far as businesses being given space on school websites, I am not aware of these sites. If you would be so kind as to let me know which GPPSS organizations allow such advertising, we would very much like to support them with our advertising dollars.
You received what the advertising industry refers to as a targeted direct mail piece. Every senior portrait studio in the nation uses a variety of sources for names for their mailings. Some of them include direct mail list companies, proprietary sources through various photographic association, students through our SpokesModel program and parents who have been satisfied with our services. A Google search for "high school senior mailing list" on Google bring up 12,900,000 listings. The first page of the search is attached for your reference. Some of these firms (depending on what you are willing to pay per name) will even sort them by family income, postal carrier route and/or grade point average of the student.
I am curious as to if you received any mailings from any other portraits studios for senior portraits. The seniors who have been in to date have brought in brochures and postcards they have received from at least a half dozen other portrait studios. I hope if you received mailings from them you have expressed the same concern as you have below when you wrote them complaining about them sending a targeted mailing to your senior.
Surely, you have received other targeted mailings from dentists, orthodontists and dozens of other firms who have purchased similar lists.
Have you written them as well? I am guessing not, and based on the social media posts residents have forwarded me in the past, that this is more of a personal problem you have with me which you have never taken the time to relate to me directly. In the past, I have just ignored them. Now, you have gone too far with your recklessness and lack of common decency.
I will be expecting you to put the same effort into an apology copied to the original recipients of your email below that you invested in authoring the reckless, slanderous email below. Anything less within the next 72 hours will leave me no choice but to refer this matter to our legal counsel for further action.
In the interim, if you have any further questions, feel free to do what most neighbors would do--pick up the phone and call me at 313-343-9060 or email me at email@example.com.
313-343-9060 (The Portrait Place--10am thru 5pm)
313-447-5600 (home--after 8pm)
From: School Board [mailto:SchoolBoard@gpschools.org]
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2015 2:22 PM
Subject: FW: New response for survey 'Contact the Board'
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2015 2:21:39 PM (UTC-05:00) Eastern Time (US &
To: School Board
Subject: New response for survey 'Contact the Board'
GENERAL RESPONSE INFORMATION
Response Start Time: 8/7/2015 2:17:26 PM
Response End Time: 8/7/2015 2:21:39 PM
IP Address: 188.8.131.52
Completed Survey: Yes
Misuse of Students Data by GPPSS School Board Member
3. Email Address:
5. Comments or Concern:
Dear Grosse Pointe Public Schools System Board of Education:
I am writing this uncomfortable letter in response to an unsolicited brochure sent by The Portrait Place to my home mailbox directly addressed to my minor student soliciting her business. I want to know how The Portrait Place obtained my daughter's name, address, and her age-as it was directed at my incoming senior from Grosse Pointe North High School for senior portraits. This information is carefully safeguarded by us as identity theft is so rampant among minors that we understand the need to keep this specific information out of public hands. We have worked diligently to keep this information private, yet Mr. Ismail and The Portrait Place were able to gain this safeguarded information with ease. My discomfort with this incident is twofold. First, either someone within GPPSS or The Parents Club has given a non-custodial adult information, without their permission, on minors attending GPPSS. Second, a sitting GPPSS School Board Trustee has abused his position with the school district for personal financial gain.
Let me preface this scenario with some historical content. I have lived in Grosse Pointe Woods since 1999. I have sent both of my kids to Grosse Pointe Public Schools for the entirety of their school ages. My oldest is entering her senior year, and my youngest her junior year at Grosse Pointe North High School. I have participated in, volunteered for, and helped to run numerous school and parent run activities for the entirety of their educational careers. All of this having been said, I have only received flyers/brochures from The Portrait Place in my mailbox during Mr. Ahmed Ismail's tenure on the School Board. This is to say, when Mr. Ismail is on the school board he appropriates a copy of targeted students' home addresses through the Grosse Pointe Public School System or PTOs for his personal business gain. I cannot be certain if he accesses our personal information from a list printed from an employee of Grosse Pointe Public Schools, or from solicited copies of particular school directories, but in either case his use of our (and thousands of others') personal information is not shared with the public schools for his businesses' (or others) financial gain.
Mr. Ismail, his wife, nor the entity of The Portrait Place have asked my permission, nor did I give my permission to the school system or Parents Club to release my/my minor's information to any businesses for their mailing. And yet, the brochure addressed to my daughter at our home to solicit her business was sent by The Portrait Place. I can only surmise that our address, her name, and age was ascertained in one of two ways, a downloaded list of names from the GPPSS or a North Parents Club Directory.
Having researched and written most of the forms (and the intent behind each privacy statements necessary to ensure the trust of families with their personal information will not be misused, sold, or given over to business
entities) used at registration time, I have full knowledge of the privacy and usage statement that ALL parents sign governing the proper and improper uses of directory names-and all warn that the directories CANNOT be used for personal financial gain. I am certain that employees of GPPSS are apprised of necessary measures and policies in place that also protect private information from the predatory practices of targeting minors with advertising. Unfortunately, it seems that a protection statement is not enough to protect my children's information.
Businesses have been given space on the GPPSS website to allow families to find information pertinent to their needs. Businesses have been curbed from directing their advertising at or through our students as it dilutes the importance of open communication since the overwhelming papers sent home were advertisements and families missed important bulletins and forms caught among the junk mail. Further, PTOs and Parents Club have given space to local businesses to advertise in their directories so that families can choose among the businesses who have placed ads in those directories.
Advertising dollars do not nullify privacy policies of the GPPSS, The Parents Club, or the families who send their students to the Grosse Pointe Schools; nor does it establish a quid pro quo relationship for the use of this personal information. I do not grant permission (nor will I) to ANY business with whom GPPSS or The Parents Club has an advertising relationship. Someone (or perhaps many someone's) has broken the contract made with GPPSS or The Parents Club to keep my minors' information private.
This, in turn has lessened my trust in both the GPPSS and The Parents Club ability to be able to safeguard my minors' information. It pains me to write this as I depart from my term limited position of President of Grosse Pointe North's Parents Club.
I fully recognize the need for reciprocal communication and cooperation among local businesses and the school system, and I am by no means trying to halt this homologous relationship. In fact, I believe a stronger complimentary relationship is necessary to abating the "brain-drain" trend seen both in MI, and the Grosse Pointes, but not at the expense of my minor students' safety and right to privacy. It is my duty as a parent to safeguard this information-with whom I have entered a contract with the GPPSS and The Parents Club to safeguard them too.
As to my second concern, ALL GPPSS Board Trustees have sworn to uphold their position as community leader to ONLY promote and ensure the health and prosperity of the GPPSS-NOT THEIR PERSONAL BUSINESS. I am incensed at Ahmed Ismail's disregard for his own words, the GPPSS Boards' policies, MI State School Board Principles, PTO and Parents Club Policies, and the rights of the students in the school district he is supposed to be leading without regard. Ahmed Ismail's complete disregard of the numerous policies are not actions of a person who is "Committed to Be Trustworthy," (A Code of Ethical Relationships, by the Joint Committee of the Michigan Association of School Boards and the Michigan Congress of School Administrator Associations), free from "Conflicts of Interest" (GPPSS Board Policy 0144.3), or safeguarding against "Personal Financial Gain" (Both GPPSS Board Policy and GPN Parents Club Directory Usage Disclaimer Statement).
I will be sending this letter to the GPN Parents Club Executive Board to address the concerns I have for the safety of our students' information. As to the behavior of Mr. Ismail's irresponsible use of minors' information I will have to trust that the School Board and Superintendent will be investigating the roll that GPPSS employees may have played in this reprehensible act, and censuring Mr. Ismail for clearly breaking your policies, his responsibility to uphold those responsibilities, and for abusing his position of power over data of students in the Grosse Pointe Public Schools.
Very Truly Yours,