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September 1st, 2008

File Sharing Program Exposes Prince William County Public School Private Records

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) recently learned that certain personal information relating to a small group of students, staff, and volunteers was inadvertently exposed to the public through the Internet for a period of approximately five weeks this summer. It was determined that a school-based employee, while working on school business from home on a personal computer, inadvertently exposed certain PWCS information to the public through a file-sharing program.

The data, which do not appear to have been compromised, were immediately secured and a number of steps have been taken to address the matter, including the creation of a special telephone “hotline” and paying for individual’s credit protection.

The exposed student information was limited to students who attend, have attended, or have applied to Porter Traditional School since its opening in 2004; a small number of students who attended Montclair Elementary School for several years prior to the 2004-05 school year; a limited number of parent volunteers at Porter Traditional School, and a select number of School Division employees.

An investigation conducted by PWCS has revealed that the student data included names, addresses, and/or student identification numbers for 1625 students associated with Porter Traditional School and Montclair Elementary School. The names and social security numbers of 65 employees were exposed, as well as other confidential information for 257 Division employees. The names, addresses, and email addresses of 736 volunteers at Porter Traditional School were also exposed.

Immediately upon learning of the exposure of confidential School Division data, PWCS secured the information and commenced an investigation to determine the scope and duration of this exposure. To date, the School Division’s investigation has produced no evidence that this information was compromised during this period.

The School Division has contacted all appropriate authorities and credit monitoring companies, and will also provide a credit monitoring service at no charge to the employees whose social security numbers were exposed.

Should any of these individuals have questions regarding the specific nature of any exposed information relating to them, they are asked to contact the special PWCS call center using the telephone “hotline” that has been set up to answer questions from those employees, parents, and volunteers who have received a letter. The number is 703.791.8157, calls should be made from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Questions can also be emailed to [email protected].

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