Mississippi officials: Computer theft at high school may have allowed access to data on more than 5,000 students

Published 6:38 am Friday, July 2, 2021

The Mississippi Department of Education has notified the students, parents and guardians of one school district that a computer theft may have exposed seven years of data on more than 5,000 students.

A news release from the MDE states the theft occurred on May 13, 2021, when the MDE’s Office of Compulsory School Attendance Enforcement experienced a break-in at one of its offices at Natchez High School.

Office equipment, including a computer containing the OCSAE student database from 2014 to 2021, was stolen. The database contained information for approximately 5,300 students who had worked with a school attendance officer.

Student databases do not contain social security numbers. However, they do include student addresses, birth dates and student identification numbers. MDE officials said there is currently no indication that any stolen information has been used.

“Still, the MDE takes its obligation to safeguard student data very seriously,” MDE states. “Therefore, MDE is recommending families with students in the Natchez-Adams School District closely monitor their credit and identity information.”

Natchez-Adams School District Public Relations Director Tony Fields said the school district has worked closely with MDE, the Natchez Police Department and Natchez-Adams School District Director of Security Melvin Davis to investigate this matter.

MDE officials said they have also examined their internal processes and are implementing additional safeguards to protect student information.

“MDE is deeply committed to protecting the confidentiality of student data,” the release states.

Families with questions about this matter can contact the MDE via email to NatchezQuestions@mdek12.org.