Non-vital student information left on computers sold by district

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- Student information mistakenly left on 14 computers sold by the school district was wiped off the hard drives before it was accessible to the public, according to Hudson Superintendent Steve Farnsworth.

The information, which included student and staff names, addresses, phone numbers and photos, and student ID numbers, "was not damaging to anyone and we are convinced was never accessible to the general public," he said.

The district took "full responsibility" for the mistake, Farnsworth said.

"Still, it was a break down in our procedures that could have been very problematic for many of our students and families," he said. "We take this very seriously and for that reason we informed our parents of the issue ... and we pledge to never let this mistake happen again."

The touch-screen computers, used as terminals to assist with biometric scanning during lunch periods, were sold after the district upgraded to new computers in May.

"Since we had no use for them, we offered them and many other outdated or unused pieces of equipment for sale to the public," Farnsworth said.

The district mistakenly thought the computers were dummy terminals that did not store data, according to Farnsworth.

One of the people who purchased the computers informed the district the data was on the computer, he said. Two individuals had purchased the computers.

The district immediately sent its technology specialists to the site to retrieve the computers and wipe out the data, Farnsworth added.

"We examined the data on the computers and found it to be information that is considered by Board policy and federal law to be directory information," Farnsworth said, stressing that the information on the computer contained no credit card information or Social Security numbers.

"We do not store credit card information or biometric finger scans on our computers," Farnsworth said. "The only other data that was on the machines were student identification codes created by our school district and have no relationship to any other identifiable information."

The codes are "useless to anyone but the school district," according to Farnsworth.

"Our procedure has been to wipe the hard drives clean before any computer or copier machine leaves the district for purchase or for recycling," he said.

The drives are usually destroyed or rendered inoperable, according to Farnsworth.

"In this particular circumstance we did not do so and for that I am deeply sorry," he added. "We have discussed this with our staff and improved our procedures such that this kind of mistake will not happen again."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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