- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - At least two computers from a defunct charter school organization in New Orleans that were sold at auction a week ago contained names, birthdates and social security numbers for 210 students.

State education officials said they were among well over 300 computers, printers and other devices sold at auction by the Louisiana Property Assistance Agency. The devices were being disposed of by the state Recovery School District, which oversees dozens of independently run public charter schools. The state Division of Administration said RSD should have ensured the devices were wiped clean before they were sold.

RSD officials said in a conference call Friday evening that the device buyers are being contacted and arrangements were being made to make sure any student information on other devices is wiped clean.

“Every device is basically accounted for,” RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard said.

The devices were from the Future Is Now organization, which had given up its charter to run a high school in New Orleans.

State officials learned of the problem after a buyer of two RSD laptops noticed files still on the devices and contacted the state Department of Education. Dobard said parents of the students involved were being notified by mail and email.

“We have zero tolerance for these violations. Current state policy requires that agencies clear computers and electronic media of data, and that did not happen in the case of RSD,” Dickie Howze, Chief Information Officer for the Division of Administration, said in a news release.

Dobard said the Future Is Now officials should have wiped the information before disposing of the devices. However, he said RSD would now implement a policy of making sure such devices are wiped clean.

The Division of Administration said the Property Assistance Agency is implementing new policies, including a requirement that agencies certify that that any surplus computer equipment or electronic media with a memory, such as printers and scanners, are marked with an individualized identifier confirming it is “sanitized.”

Meanwhile, the state said it is verifying that all data already in the Property Assistance Center warehouse is cleared of data.

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