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NCSU research info on Wilson students mistakenly put online

Posted August 9, 2011

— Data housed on a North Carolina State University computer server that contained private information for about 1,800 school children from Wilson and Richmond counties was mistakenly put online, officials said Tuesday.

The data, which was gathered from 2003 to 2006 as part of a research study on classroom practices, includes names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for students at Gardners Elementary School in Elm City, Wells Elementary School in Wilson and Ashley Chapel Elementary School in Rockingham, which has since been closed.

The state Department of Public Instruction notified N.C. State on July 25 of the data exposure after receiving a call from a parent of one of the students, officials said.

“As soon as we learned this information was publicly available, we removed it from our servers and contacted Google to ensure removal of any saved copies,” Marc Hoit, N.C. State vice chancellor for information technology, said in a statement. “Our next step was to launch a forensic review of all our servers to make sure there were no other instances of inadvertent data release."

Hoit said there is no evidence that any of the data was used improperly, but N.C. State officials are trying to contact the parents of all students whose data was in the research study so that they can take steps to protect against the possibility of identity theft.

The university sent letters to the parents on Monday. It also set up systems for parents to contact N.C. State officials by phone at 919-515-5912 or email at ced_info@ncsu.edu.

At the time of the research study, a small number of North Carolina school systems still used Social Security numbers as student identification numbers. All public schools statewide now use randomly generated personal identification numbers.

18 Comments

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  • JAT Aug 9, 4:52 p.m.

    Who really cares? The chances of a "bad" person happening upon the study online and seeing the information is slim to none. There are alot more ways that people can get info on kids if they really want them. We see "SSN online" and overreact to it.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Aug 9, 4:48 p.m.

    Why on earth are social security numbers needed for something like this? Are they potential students, or not???

  • htomc42 Aug 9, 4:17 p.m.

    This is why the amount of personal information that I give the Census people is -nothing-, despite their threats. Just wait until the government starts actively managing all our medical information, you might as well post your life's information on a highway billboard, for the privacy you can expect.

  • luvwhljr.neways Aug 9, 4:13 p.m.

    Wake Mom- You certainly do not know all about NCWise. SS #'s aren't used to id kids. However, they are located in the database. I can testify to that. NCWise Data Manager

  • sunshine1040 Aug 9, 4:00 p.m.

    I do not know what they were researching but they did not need to know the childrens SSAN. And somebody need to take more computer classes to learn how to save info without posting it on the net

  • TeenDAD Aug 9, 1:45 p.m.

    although it wouldnt surprise me if iNCeST actually WAS using SSN's as an identifier

  • justanothercomment4u Aug 9, 1:29 p.m.

    Let me guess... Barry is a UNC fan? This story is about the children and lives exposed not about cheating... I too hope action is taken for this mistake.

  • TeenDAD Aug 9, 1:28 p.m.

    For those unfamiliar with research SSN's are used for reimbursement and tax filing purposes.

  • RKBA Aug 9, 12:59 p.m.

    "What a joke. I hope someone gets fired for this -"

    Part of the school system? Never happen.... it's "for the children" you know...

  • SueInNC Aug 9, 12:07 p.m.

    What a joke. I hope someone gets fired for this - with so much identity theft in the world, this is just an open invitation for fraud.

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