By REBECCA HAZEN
Technology Specialist Tanner Bradford spoke to the Dade County Board of Education about the school’s data breach plan during the Monday, Jan. 24 meeting.
Bradford recently attended a data breach training session and explained to the board what he had learned.
Bradford noted that in 2020, education was number five in ransomware attacks. In 2021, education moved up to number two, behind government.
During the training, there was a malicious software exercise in which there was a simulated data breach within a school district. The training attendees had to be the decision makers experiencing a possible cyber-attack.
“The full extent or impact of a data breach is rarely known up front. Do your best to anticipate what might happen, but don’t get ahead of yourself,” Bradford said.
Dade County Schools’ data breach plan is as follows:
First, it will be determined which computers have been affected and disconnect them from the network. After, determine if any other computers have been affected after disconnecting the original affected devices.
If the data breach is ransomware and is infecting computers across the network, then an email needs to be sent out stating that the network will be shutdown temporarily. It will have to be determined which files and if any employee data was encrypted. Student data is not stored on the school’s servers.
The last step is to contact the Superintendent and inform them of what is happening, and then call their insurance and Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency if employee data was breached.
“In the past we did have a ransomware attack. We had to rely on experts. Now the experts have gotten us through the process of coming up with a plan,” Chris Greene, Director of Information Technology and Network Services, said.
Board member John Warren asked about having to possibly pay ransoms.
“Now, we would be very comfortable with that type of an attack,” Greene responded. “With most of types of attacks, we’re in good shape.”
In addition, Greene spoke to the board about e-rates. According to fcc.gov, “The FCC’s E-Rate program makes telecommunications and information services more affordable for schools and libraries.”
“I am just looking to find as many things as possible that we can take 80 percent of that burden off of us as far as the e-rate funding,” Greene said.
Eligible items include network management services, network switches, new cabinets to hold the servers, and the annual licensing fee for the firewall.
“We are a lot more limited than last year. You have to hit things while they’re eligible,” Green said.
Also during the meeting, Dade County Public Library Manager Mindy Haworth spoke to the board about the partnerships that she hopes to develop with the schools.
Haworth has been in contact with the media specialists to see how the library can help serve students and teachers.
Haworth informed board members about the app Libby, which offers free ebooks and audiobooks. People can sign up on the app with a library card number.
“What I have heard from parents and teachers, a lot of their students want audio books to be able to listen to while they read along,” Haworth said.
Haworth also noted that she is working with the media specialists to make sure that when books are assigned, there are digital copies available through the Libby app.
Spencer Pennington also introduced himself as the new library’s youth education coordinator. He spoke to the board about the library’s digital resources, such as Learning Express Library.
“This is something that we have invested in, because we think it can help students and adults,” Pennington said.
The Learning Express Library offers resources such as tests, tutorials, and ebooks for students in fourth grade through high school. College admissions test preparation is included, as well as adult core skills.
Paula Stallings presented the financial report. Stallings noted that the fiscal year is half completed. Total revenue collections year to date are $11,691,520.65. Total expenditures year to date are $9,557,527.53.
Board members agreed to purchase a new boiler for $24,265 for Dade Elementary School.
Ingle thanked Bull Moose Tube, Teleflex, Elder’s Ace Hardware, and Tractor Supply for their donations toward the CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) programs.
The board members also voted Johnny Warren as board vice chair.
The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters. The board approved the resignations of Dade County High School principal James Fahrney Jr., Jay Aarseth and Connie Walker. The board rehired principals Charity Barton, Michelle Beeler and Tracy Blevins, in addition to Tonya Gatlin, Chris Greene, Shenea Hill, Patti Johnson and Susan Reyes. The board also approved the retirements of Dr. Cleta Long and April Abernathey. The board approved the hiring of Ruby Iles for school nutrition staff, Chassity McElhaney as school nutrition substitute and Jerry Giles and Kecia Guffey as transportation staff.