Up to 70,000 student records potentially exposed

Data from students at more than a dozen Big Island public and charter schools — used for college and career planning on the My Future Hawaii website — might have been accessed by unauthorized users.

Graduation Alliance, a vendor contracted by the University of Hawaii for Hawaii P-20 Partnerships of Education, reported the potential exposure, UH announced Monday.

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Hawaii P-20 has been working with Graduation Alliance on the website to provide middle and high school students and their families with college and career planning resources, financial aid guidance and an expedited application process for the University of Hawaii, a news announcement from UH stated.

According to its website, Hawaii P-20 is a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the state Department of Education and the UH system that “works to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through post-secondary education and training.”

A maximum of 70,000 student records statewide were potentially exposed, the website stated in a section addressing frequently asked questions about Graduation Alliance.

“Any time there’s some kind of data exposure, there’s concern,” said Brent Suyama, associate director of UH Communications.

Graduation Alliance hired a third-party investigator to do a forensic analysis of what happened, he said, “and from there we’ll have a better idea of the extent to which the exposure was.”

According to Suyama, the potential exposure happened last week and an investigation was started. It is unknown at this point if any data actually was retrieved.

According to the UH news announcement, the potentially exposed data does not include Social Security numbers or financial, driver’s license or health information, which are not part of the My Future Hawaii application.

The data that could have been accessed, however, includes names, birth dates, gender, race, ethnicity, permanent and mailing addresses, grade levels, courses and grades, cumulative weighted GPAs, and Smarter Balance Assessment scores and proficiency levels.

Affected Big Island schools include: Connections Public Charter School, Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School, Hilo High, Honokaa High and Intermediate, Ka‘u High and Pahala Elementary, Keaau High, Kealakehe High, Kohala High, Konawaena High, Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School, Pahoa High and Intermediate, Waiakea High, West Hawaii Explorations Academy Public Charter School and Hilo Intermediate.

Throughout the state, 67 schools were affected.

The DOE was set to issue a letter, signed by Superintendent Christina Kishimoto, to parents via email Monday, with hard copies to be mailed out this week.

“HIDOE is working closely with the University of Hawaii to monitor the situation,” she wrote. “The investigation is ongoing to determine whether the unauthorized access led to student data exposure.”

According to the UH news release, the potential exposure does not constitute a security breach under state statutes.

Once the issue was discovered, the My Future Hawaii website was immediately shut down.

Law enforcement was notified and UH, Hawaii P-20 and the DOE will be updated regularly, the news release said.

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Parents and guardians with questions can call 956-5800 or email ga.help@hawaii.edu. Updates also will be provided at p20hawaii.org.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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