School district leaves personnel records behind during renovations

January 20, 2007

Associated Press

Boxes of personnel records - including the Social Security numbers of thousands of teachers - were accidentally left behind by the Greenville County school district when it vacated its office for renovations, officials say.

The 10 boxes held lists of every teacher employed by the district between 1972 and 1990, as well as their Social Security numbers, district spokeswoman Oby Lyles said Friday. Several other boxes contained personnel records as recent as 1998, Lyles said.

"While it seems apparent the records were left behind because they were essentially hidden and inaccessible, the district is investigating to determine responsibility and will take appropriate action," he said.

There was no evidence the records had been duplicated, Lyles said.

District officials and police searched the empty building Thursday night after The Greenville News told the district it had received an anonymous call about the boxes, which had not been located during a walkthrough of the building before it was vacated, according to an incident report.

A rear door of the building was also found to be "unsecure, due to screws keeping the locking mechanism from locking the door," the report said.

District officials will question employees and workers at the site, Lyles said.

The finding comes just two months after it was discovered that the district had sold computers containing Social Security numbers and birthdates for roughly 100,000 students and at least 1,000 employees.

The two buyers never released the information found in computers they bought at a dozen school district auctions between 1999 and last March but decided to go public with their findings after the district ignored their warnings about the information, their attorney has said.

Last month, Circuit Judge Diane S. Goodstein ordered the men and their company, WH Group, to return the computers, saying both sides had agreed to let an independent computer expert document all of the data.

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