Stolen laptop contained 2,000 Fairfax student health records

A laptop containing health records for 2,000 Fairfax County public school students was stolen out of a health department employee’s car, possibly compromising the confidential information, school and health officials said.

In a letter to families, school officials said that the laptop was stolen on July 15, when someone broke into a school nurse’s car. Along with the health-
department
-issued laptop, a briefcase containing paper student records also was stolen, officials said.

The laptop contained files for 2,000 current and former Fairfax students at six schools, including Brookfield, Fairfax Villa and Navy elementary schools, Lanier and Rocky Run middle schools, and Chantilly High School and Chantilly Academy.

Health officials said that the records included student names, their school system identification numbers and specific medical conditions, including allergies. The spreadsheets did not contain Social Security numbers, health insurance information or home addresses for the students, school officials said.

The school nurse was allowed to have the records in her car and at home, health officials said, but they noted that the nurse had violated protocol by failing to store the files securely.

The paper records should have been kept in a locked briefcase separate from the laptop, and the electronic files should not have been saved on the computer’s hard drive, officials said. Health officials said files with personally identifiable information are supposed to be stored on encrypted portable drives. The employee, who was not publicly identified, likely will face disciplinary action, health officials said.

The health department is reviewing current security procedures with employees, according to spokesman Glen Barbour.

“We are going above and beyond to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Barbour said.

The school system mailed letters and sent e-mails to notify the families of affected students Monday.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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