AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Education is telling school districts not to submit students’ Social Security numbers to a state database until it works out a system error that gave a school technology director access to restricted information.

The department said Tuesday that it is deleting from its systems students’ Social Security numbers that have been submitted and ordering an outside review of the security of its data collection systems.

On Friday, a technology director for a Maine school district reported being able to see the Social Security numbers of staff members in other districts.

State officials say they immediately found the problem and addressed it, restricting access to the staff members’ Social Security information. They still plan to hire a contractor to determine how the private information became available and how to prevent future data breaches, the department said.

“The department takes the security of private information seriously, and supports school boards, parents and school officials in their caution with respect to the collection of data,” Education Commissioner Angela Faherty said in a prepared statement.

For the first time, Maine school districts are collecting students’ Social Security numbers for a statewide database intended to help policy makers track students’ progress throughout school and college and into the workplace.

The Department of Education was to collect the Social Security numbers from districts along with other informational items – including enrollment and special education data – that it collects on Oct. 1 of each year.

The department collects the information through its Infinite Campus information portal, the system through which the technology director was able to view the sensitive information.

“We’re grateful that the Department of Education has recognized the seriousness of our data security concerns,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, which has been a vocal opponent of the Social Security number collection. “We continue to believe that there are more effective ways to evaluate student outcomes without violating student privacy.”

Since the Department of Education started rolling out information about the Social Security number collection, a number of school boards have passed resolutions opposing it. Under the 2009 law, school districts are required to ask for students’ Social Security numbers, but parents can decline to provide them.

The Department of Education said the technology director’s ability to view staff members’ Social Security numbers wasn’t connected to the Infinite Campus function that would manage the collection of students’ Social Security numbers.

David Connerty-Marin, a Department of Education spokesman, said state officials are advising school districts to hang on to the students’ Social Security numbers they have already collected until the state is ready to accept them, which is expected to be in a few weeks.

The delay announced Tuesday is the second such delay since the law was passed in June 2009. In September of 2009, the Department of Education decided to hold off on the collection one more year to give schools time to update privacy policies.