High School Students' Grades Leaked Online in Fairfax County

Police believe it was an inside job

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police said someone accessed a computer inside Fairfax High School, then posted sensitive student information online. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports.

    Information stolen from a Fairfax County Public Schools database has been shared online -- and police believe it was an inside job.

    “I felt sort of violated,” said high school sophomore Sarah Morillo. “I don't know what they want to do with it.”

    Her spring 2012 grades and those of hundreds of other classmates were published on the website Fairfax Underground for anyone to see.

    On the site, students' names, school ID numbers, final exam grades, fourth quarter grades and final grades for the school year are grouped by course. It appears every student enrolled in ninth, 10th or 11th grade last spring was listed.

    Fairfax County school administrators learned of the posting Thursday and notified parents by letter.

    “We contacted the online forum site administrator yesterday afternoon, demanding that they take down this information,” FCPS spokesman John Torre said. “It is considered confidential under federal law.”

    On Friday, The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted the FCPS request for a temporary restraining order requiring Fairfax Underground removed the information. The owner of Fairfax Underground said he would remove it by 5 p.m.

    The school district also reported the security breach to police. The school district’s IT team is working with a Fairfax City police forensics detective to determine who obtained the information. They already think they know where it happened.

    “They believe that the whole incident started at Fairfax High School from one of their servers, one of their laptops or one of the 2,000 computers they have in the school that the information was accessed there on site,” Fairfax City police Sgt. Joe Johnson said.

    No dates of birth, Social Security numbers or addresses were published, but parents who spoke to News4 are outraged and worried that the public information could come back to haunt students, especially when it comes time to apply to college.

    “The information they got, what are they going to do with it?” parent Laura Morillo asked. “She’s not ready to apply to college, but is there something they could do in the future for her for college? Everything affects their potential to go to school.”

    Whoever accessed the confidential information will be subject to criminal charges, police said.

    Schools officials said that once they identify the culprit and how the private information was obtained, they can then try to make sure it doesn't happen again.