Special Education database stolen from DOE - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Special Education database stolen from DOE

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Parents of students with disabilities in the Department of Education's Division of Special Education have reason to be concerned. Sometime between the hours of 5pm on July 29 and 6am of August 1, a data office at Chief Brodie Memorial School was broken into. According to school program consultant Terese Crisostomo, the most notable items stolen were a computer monitor, mouse, and computer server that houses the SPED database.

"The database does contain the information for students with disabilities," she said. Over 3,000 names of SPED students and all information regarding their disability as well as parent information was held on the database. Crisostomo assures the families of SPED students that their personal information is safe and backed up. She said, "Within the entire department of education there are only three employees that have access to the database. I don't have access to it, neither does our assistant superintendent."

"The information is not lost because we take measures to make sure we download the information that is needed," Crisostomo continued. "We do a daily download at the end of the day of the information." Crisostomo adds that the database is passcode protected, and even if the vandals could break into the system, all the information is encrypted."

"They need a passcode that they would need to enter the software database. If they were savvy enough to do that, there are hackers a lot of the information is also in codes. Unless you know what the codes stand for, it's really not a lot of information; it would be useless information," she said.

The data office appeared to have no signs of forced entry. Since the break-in, the data office's locks have been changed as well as the school's main gate padlock. According to DOE interim superintendent Taling Taitano, with the growing number of school burglaries, school security has become top priority. "We do have a certain number of schools that should have cameras installed very shortly. I've written to the law enforcement agencies asking them for their assistance - we've put together some grants for additional cameras in the school," she told KUAM News.

Taitano has also asked village mayors to work with the school community on security measures. Speaker Judi Won Pat is scheduled to hold a roundtable discussion next week on school security and invites the community for input.

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