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Hard drive from state Education Department with student information on it missing

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Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2011 3:44 am | Updated: 1:54 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has warned school districts across the state that information on thousands of students, including some from Fairbanks, was contained on a computer hard drive stolen in Juneau.

The department sent a letter to all school districts, including Fairbanks, alerting local officials to information breach. The Juneau Police Department is investigating the reported theft.

“Alaska law requires government agencies that collect personal information to notify you if your information is lost or stolen,” Commissioner Mike Hanley wrote in a news release. “This theft has unfortunately resulted in the release of some of your personal information to an unauthorized third party.”

Information regarding thousands of students’ names, dates of birth, and student identification numbers could be accessed with the stolen equipment. Other information that might be available on the stolen hard drive included students’ gender, school district affiliation, school affiliation, race/ethnicity, disability status, grade level, test scores and enrollment information.

Information regarding the following students was on the stolen hard drive:

• 12,099 students in grades 10-12, in all 54 districts, who participated in the state Standards Based Assessments in April 2010.

• 76,868 students in grades 3 through 10, in all 54 districts, who participated in the state High School Graduation Qualifying Examination in April 2010.

• 279 students with disabilities from the Northwest Arctic Borough School District in the 2006-2007 school year.

• 269 students with disabilities from the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in the 2006-2007 school year.

• Four students with disabilities from the Delta/Greely School District in the 2002-2003 school year.

The department’s news release said Social Security numbers, “the key piece of personal information required for identity theft,” were not disclosed.

Hanley wrote the information was not available in a universal format nor easily recognized by file names. He said the department will change Alaska Student Identification Numbers if parents ask.

So far, the department has received calls from about six parents wanting to change their students’ identification numbers.

Parents can contact the Department of Education and Early Development at 465-8727.

The Fairbanks school district will be sending letters to parents of students who may be affected.

Contact reporter Reba Lean at 459-7523.

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