I-Team: Mansfield school computers hacked, but parents not informed

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MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a big secret kept from parents in the Mansfield City School District. Hackers got into the school computer system months ago, but parents say they are just now hearing about it from the I-Team.

Monday, we showed up at the office of the School District’s lawyer. Andrew Burton greeted us with, “I don’t know why you’re here.”

We told him we went to see him to have a conversation about the hacking. We had gotten nowhere on the phone last week with the district.

Burton referred to, “The hacking…or whatever.” He then refused to explain exactly what the hackers had done and how the district responded.

He answered questions on the phone with phrases including, “I’m not at liberty to discuss that,” and, “I can’t answer that question directly.”

Yet, when we then saw him in person, he quickly scrambled away from our camera. Burton said, “My client will have a statement. I have nothing else to say to you.”

Parents we spoke with outside Malabar Intermediate School told us the district had not announced anything about any hacking, and they found that alarming.

“It’s concerning. I have to hear from a news reporter. I wish the district would have notified us,” said parent Leona Smith.

The I-Team then requested internal school district records. The district sent us nearly 700 pages, mostly duplicates of small portions of emails. They refer to a “cyber incident,” “security breach,” a “computer compromised,” and more.

But, mostly we reviewed page after page of heavily blacked out documents. More secrecy.

Behind all of that, we noticed the district hired a computer security company involved in “incident response.” A website shows that company services offered include “ransomware negotiation and payment.”

A check shows the district paid that firm $10,000. But, we’re told, the district insurance company paid all other costs related to this.

Parents wonder if the hackers found out anything about their families?

The Mansfield Superintendent also is not commenting.

The district’s lawyer also pointed out in an email that the school system only has to follow the law to provide records, not information.

To taxpayers, that’s a slap in the face, especially after the way the district gave us records heavily blacked out.

The I-Team also found the district did not notify the FBI, Mansfield Police, or the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation of the incident.

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