Police investigate hacking attempt on Wichita Public Schools computer system

Computer (KSN File Photo

WICHITA, Kansas — The Wichita Public Schools is currently investigating a hacking attempt of some of its computer systems. USD 259 said the extent of the attempt it is not known at this time but they say there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it involves student records.

As a precaution, they say, some of the district’s computer programs “have been taken down while we evaluate the systems during this investigation”. Those systems include the ParentVue and StudentVue systems used to allow students and parents to view their progress in classes.

“My kids use it. They like to show me their grades of how well they’re doing in the progress reports on it,” said Wichita parent, Misty Florez.

She relies on ParentVue to make sure her children are staying on track with their work.

“It’s a way to check missing assignments and everything. So I know exactly what it’s for,” Florez said.

But with an attempted hack on USD 259’s computer system, it’s one of the many systems that have been shut down for the time being.

“I know lots of parents who do use it,” Florez said. “It’s easy to check up on your kids if they have missing assignments and be able to correct them before you have to wait to get to conferences for teachers to tell you what they’re missing and not missing.”

Susan Arensman, Wichita Public Schools, said a staff employee noticed something was wrong with their computer systems Friday and started investigating. They don’t believe any personal student information was compromised.

“We have got law enforcement involved and we are also using an outside cyber security company to help us isolate that and to see what actually may have happened or not,” Arensman said.

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

It’s not a safety concern, but potentially an inconvenience.

“Parents may have to actually receive and email teachers instead being able to look something up themselves. It’s going to cause more inconvenience for a lot of people than it was,” said Florez.

Once school officials know more about the attempted hack, they’ll figure out what steps the district needs to take to improve security. The school district isn’t sure how long systems like ParentVue will be shut down.

KSN wanted to know if this affects school security. Arensman said everything is working with the school hall pass system. If you’re not familiar with the hall pass system, it requires school visitors to provide a driver’s license or government issued ID car when entering a school building. Those ID’s are scanned against national sexual offender data bases. It only takes a matter of seconds. It’s how the district ensures the safety of the school environment.

The email below was sent to all staff by Superintendent John Allison:

Good morning colleagues,

I want to inform you there has been a hacking attempt of one of the Wichita Public Schools’ computer systems. At this time, we don’t know the extent of the attempt, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it involves student records. We have notified law enforcement and we are working with an outside cyber security agency to determine the extent of the attempt.

As a precaution, some of our computer programs have been taken down while we evaluate the systems during this investigation. While I understand the frustration this may cause you, I appreciate your understanding while we work through this investigation.

I will share more information with you as soon as it becomes available.


John Allison

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