Screenshot of Wichita public schools webpage (Oct. 26, 2015) Courtesy of Wichita USD 259
Screenshot of Wichita public schools webpage (Oct. 26, 2015) Courtesy of Wichita USD 259

Education

Wichita school district looking into computer hacking attempt

By Suzanne Perez Tobias

The Wichita Eagle

October 26, 2015 10:49 AM

UPDATED October 27, 2015 05:27 AM

The Wichita school district is investigating a hacking attempt on one of its computer systems, district officials said Monday.

“We do know that it has not impacted any of our student records,” spokeswoman Susan Arensman said during a media briefing at district headquarters Monday. “Right now it is too early in the investigation to say what they may have been going after.”

WPS is investigating a hacking attempt. At this time, it doesn't appear to involve student records. More info: https://t.co/ibhzfQl1eF

— WichitaPublicSchools (@WichitaUSD259) October 26, 2015

The district is working with Wichita police and FishNet Security, a cyber-security consulting company based in Overland Park, to determine the extent of the hacking attempt, Arensman said. She said it was the first such attempt against the district’s computer system.

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As a precaution, officials have disabled some of the district’s systems, including ParentVue and StudentVue, which patrons use to access student grades and other information. Anyone trying to log on to those sites Monday saw an error message that said, “This webpage is not available.”

StudentVUE and ParentVUE systems are down. We are working to address the issue.

— WichitaPublicSchools (@WichitaUSD259) October 26, 2015

Superintendent John Allison sent an e-mail to all district staff at about 10 a.m. Monday, informing them of the hacking attempt and the disabled computer programs.

“While I understand the frustration this may cause you, I appreciate your understanding while we work through this investigation,” Allison said in the e-mail.

Arensman said the hack was discovered late Friday by a staff member who noticed “some anomalies” with the computer system. District technology officials shut down systems over the weekend to investigate.

Employees and families were notified Monday “because a lot of them do work with those (computer interfaces), so we wanted them to be aware” the systems were still down, Arensman said. She could not say how long the systems would be disabled.

“Teaching is going on as normal right now,” she said. “Teachers may not be able to enter grades or attendance or those types of work, but it shouldn’t be anything that affects the student records themselves.”

Wichita, the state’s largest school district, collects information on 51,000 students and more than 5,000 employees.

“We just want to be sure that our systems are safe, so that is why we are working diligently to find out,” Arensman said.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.