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District 518 is investigating whether data was compromised when an employee's email account was hacked

The security breach was first discovered about a week and a half ago.

District 518 brownhouse
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WORTHINGTON — A District 518 employee’s email was hacked and an investigation is underway to determine whether any data was compromised.

“At this point we don’t anticipate it to be a major data breach or a large issue, but we’re trying to ensure we do our due diligence on checking,” said Superintendent John Landgaard, following a Monday meeting of the District 518 Board of Education’s Instructional Committee.

The security breach was first discovered about a week and a half ago, and the Southwest West Central Service Co-Op is investigating, Landgaard said.

If any sensitive data was released, notifications will be sent to parents of any students involved.

As of Monday, however, preliminary indications were that the hackers seemed to have used the hacked email account to send more emails out rather than taking any data from it.

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How the account was hacked remained unclear.

“It wasn’t necessarily an employee error,” Landgaard said. “At this point I’m waiting for more info.”

It was also unclear on Monday how many students’ data or what type of data might have been involved. One thing that couldn’t have been leaked, however, was students’ social security numbers, as the school doesn’t have those.

More information on the security issue could be available within the next week.

“We don’t believe there’s a huge data risk at this point,” Landgaard said.

In other news Monday, the committee:

  • Considered two employee requests, which will need to be approved by the full board at its 5:15 p.m. Tuesday meeting. One, for math teacher Theresa Tripp, would allow her to teach at Minnesota West Community & Technical College for 10 months, and bring that experience to advanced math courses at Worthington High School. Schedule permitting, she could potentially continue to teach at WHS, she said. The committee asked for a statement of support from the math department, and Tripp said she would get it.

    The second employee request was to be allowed to work remotely in order to be available for their aging parents. Landgaard said the employee was in an area where the district is already short of employees, and one other individual is working remotely but still coming in periodically. The committee suggested working remotely could be allowed on a one-year trial basis to see how it goes.

  • Approved the hiring of Josh Noble as director of instruction, which will go before the full board Tuesday.
  • Learned that District 518 is still hiring for the next school, and most likely, it’ll have around 35 new teachers next year.
  • Received an updated enrollment figure of 3,394 students, up 35 since the beginning of the school year.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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