Stolen laptop holds medical records of Fairfax students

Nearly 2,000 current and former students from Brookfield, Fairfax Villa and Navy Elementary Schools, Lanier and Rocky Run Middle Schools, Chantilly High School and Chantilly Academy, have had school health records stolen.

On July 16th, an unnamed Fairfax County Health Department nurse reported to police that her county laptop and her briefcase had been stolen from her car. Police say the incident happened in a residential area near Fairfax County Parkway in Fairfax Station.

Officials say by keeping the records on her laptop, the nurse violated the health department’s protocol. A health department spokesman said the county provides an encrypted external hard drive to transport records.

Fairfax County Public Schools notified parents in a letter July 29th explaining that students school IDs, health information and names have been stolen.

The letter indicates that social security numbers and home addresses were not included in the records.

Retired Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton is a security expert and says the real danger is a lax attitude toward security.

“We don't really take the safe guarding of our data as seriously as we should,” Col. Leighton says. “People have gotten better at it but these kinds of data breaches allow people to go hunt and fish.”

In an email Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman John Torre said “We have no reason to believe that this incident poses any threat to the students and do not believe parents need to take any specific action.”

The health official added that the investigation is ongoing, and employees will be reminded of the county’s policy. The nurse could face disciplinary action, he said.