In the three weeks since the last Evans Middle School staff members moved to their new building, Columbia County workers have been in and out of the old building removing kitchen equipment, salvaging building materials and hauling off trash.
During that time, access to the building has been as simple as walking through any number of open doors or climbing through windows. School workers were well aware that neighborhood teens were skulking around and vandalizing the facility.
Yet only when a couple of those teens find some papers that shouldn't have been left behind, and which embarrass the school system, does Superintendent Tommy Price ask the sheriff to investigate the trespassers.
Oh, please. No one felt moved to make sure the school was locked or post "No Trespassing" signs when vandals were running rampant. They reacted only when kids found sensitive documents and exposed a sloppy school move.
Perhaps taxpayers should feel fortunate: School officials could be belatedly locking the building after an injury to a trespasser, who could be suing the county for damages. At least the document revelation is merely embarrassing, and no one has been hurt.
At least, it's hoped no one has been hurt. While identity theft is over-hyped, a determined name-thief could have a field day with the names, Social Security numbers and other information on those documents. Officials believe they have recovered the wayward papers, and have at least attempted to contact everyone whose personal information could have been compromised.
While the school system is at fault for failing to properly secure those documents in the first place, the kids who sneaked into the school and swiped them are wrong, too - but any suggestion of prosecution is just plain petty. We should hope, however, that parents lecture their kids on the importance of keeping out of where they shouldn't go.
The parents of some of these teens should be spanked, too. Two women responsibly turned purloined papers over to Price, who was led to believe all the documents had been recovered. That didn't stop another of the moms from playing "gotcha," taking some of the more-sensitive documents to a radio reporter simply to embarrass the school system.
The woman who passed that information to any hands other than those of school officials increased the possibility of identity theft. That was irresponsible, and served no useful purpose.
Where does all this go now? First, Columbia County government officials, led by Management Services Director Todd Glover, deserve credit for immediately moving to audit their own activities to make sure personal - and personnel - information doesn't slip into improper hands. School officials obviously should do the same.
Further, it is inexcusable that such papers were left in an unsecured building. School officials from Evans Middle Principal Michael Johnson, to maintenance personnel, all the way to Price, ought be held personally accountable if any of the people identified in those papers has their credit improperly accessed as a result.
Taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for it, that's for sure.
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