Sheriffs to investigate Evans Middle personal information breach

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

August 22, 2006

Confidential information, including addresses, phone numbers and even social security numbers for students and teachers could have been leaked.

Now, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office is trying to figure out how this information got out in the first place.

Superintendent Tommy Price says the old Evans Middle School building was supposed to be locked up, but kids may have gotten in and taken information. Today he asked the sheriff's office to make sure all of it has been returned.

"We certainly want to let them know the system is behind them, and what damages in any way result, we want to assist," Price says.

Superintendent Price says someone found staff rosters from 2003-2005, a standardized testing list of about 40 students with social security numbers, and a school directory with names, addresses, and phone numbers. That's why the board turned the investigation over to the sheriff's office.

"We need to find out where this information was and how it came to be unsecured," says school board member Mike Sleeper.

Price suspects someone left the documents behind when Evans Middle School moved to a new location.

But the documents should have been shredded when schools started keeping confidential information electronically.

Now the board suspects that kids got into the building and found the sensitive documents in the trash.

Sleeper says confusion during the move could be to blame.

"It's rare. I don't know this has happened in the past. How often do you move buildings, lock stock and barrel from one to the other?"

Price says lots of people were in and out during the move, and the documents were overlooked.

"I don't want to start pointing fingers," he says. "I accept responsibility. We should have made sure the building was clear of things with value and confidential information."

Now the sheriff's office is trying to make sure that information stays confidential.

Capt. Steve Morris says the investigation could lead to burglary or theft charges. The official incident report should be available tomorrow.

Tommy Price met with Evans Middle School faculty this afternoon. He talked to them about the potential risks involved with identity theft and ways they could protect themselves.

If you think you may be the victim of identity theft, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website for help and information at http://business.ftc.gov/privacy-and-security.


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