Board Of Ed Members Express ‘Deep Concern’ About Comments Made By Fellow Member

They say they’re confident in Superintendent’s handling of the data breach.

Frederick, Md. (KM) A majority of the Frederick County Board of Education say they have confidence in the way Superintendent Dr. Theresa Alban and her staff have handled the data breach. They issued a statement last week saying they have “deep concerns” over comments made by Board Member Colleen Cusimano.

“We worked collaboratively as a board to respond to the data breach, and prevent another, to create some specific actions to do that,” says Liz Barrett, the Vice President of the Board of Education.

In an article in the Frederick News-Post, Cusimanao said it’s been difficult to get information about the data breach from school system administrators, and they have intentionally withheld information from the public and the Board.

“As the Vice President of the Board and speaking on behalf of the majority of the board, we agree that Dr.  Alban has been forthcoming. And we support her. This has been an extremely challenging process,” says Barrett.

She also says the allegations made by Cusimano are not accurate. “The conversation needs to continue, but it needs to continue in a way that’s really fact-based, and needs to continue without allegations of misleading or deceit because those things simply are not true,” says Barrett.

In addition, she says Cusimano went against the School Board’s code of conduct. “Unfortunately, the way Ms. Cusimano brought some of the allegations of deceit and misleading to the public were simply troubling to us,” says Barrett.

The data breach occurred between 2005 and 2006, and affected about 1,000 students. It was discovered last year when a former student discovered his data on a website. The FBI was brought in to investigate. Investigations were also begun by the school system and state agencies. The breach was made public in December, 2016.

Barrett said a lot of information was not made available earlier because investigations were underway. “On behalf of our board, I think the blame game is not effective. And I don’t like it, and a majority of our board doesn’t like the blame work. It doesn’t work,” she said. “MSDE did participate in an audit, and the audit results are confidential.”

Some action will be taken regarding this data breach, according to Barrett. “There an RPF {Requests for Proposals} that’s going to be  forthcoming where we’re going to hire an outside consultant to come in. We’re going to look at our connections to other organizations that we have to submit data to. And we’re going to participate in an IIAA {Interagency Internal Audit Authority}|  audit on the issue,” she says.

But Barrett admitted that the School System could have handled this incident differently. “Our number-one concern has been and continues to be for the students who are affected,” she said. “And I think very clearly that’s one message we failed to deliver.”


By Kevin McManus