Hamilton County Schools says thousands of family records will be released, then decides to hold off

The requestor of the records also withdrew it in a hail of criticism

Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / "Hamilton County Schools" is seen on a new school bus at the Hamilton County Department of Education on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Hamilton County Schools alerted families of 45,000 schoolchildren Thursday evening that their personal information would be released next week to a private citizen who asked for it - then backtracked four hours later under a barrage of criticism.

The requestor withdrew his request shortly after.

The information included parent names, street addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, grade level of children and school of enrollment.

"We are required by law to fulfill this request," the district informed parents, in bold letters, around 5 p.m.

By 9 p.m., the district sent out a follow-up email.

"While the board is bound by the law, we respect the privacy of our students and their families," it said. "No information will be shared with the requestor unless and until we have exhausted all legal options."

The request was made by Brendan Jennings of the group Friends of Hamilton, which has advocated for a new city called Hamilton in the northern part of the county, including Ooltewah, Harrison, Georgetown, Birchwood and McDonald, according to its website.