Education

Manatee school district disciplines employees who let hackers have 7,700 W-2’s

Manatee County School District Superintendent Diana Greene talks about the future of the Duette Elementary School in this file photo. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Greene said district officials take full responsibility for the district data breach.
Manatee County School District Superintendent Diana Greene talks about the future of the Duette Elementary School in this file photo. At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Greene said district officials take full responsibility for the district data breach.

The two Manatee County School District employees responsible for releasing more than 7,700 W-2 forms to an email hacker have been disciplined, according to Deputy Superintendent Ron Ciranna.

Ciranna said one employee has been removed from her position and placed into another role in the district where she will not have access to sensitive information, and the other employee received a formal letter of warning.

The two employees worked together to send a hacker a PDF file containing all the W-2’s for employees who worked in the district in 2016. An email scammer sent one of the employees an email that appeared to be from Superintendent Diana Greene, requesting the information.

The scam has been perpetrated against school districts across the country, and the IRS issued a warning about it on Feb. 2, just one day before Ciranna and other district officials learned of the breach in Manatee’s system.

The district is providing identity protection and credit monitoring for all affected employees, whether retired or currently with the district, for the next two years.

Greene issues mea culpa

At the end of Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Greene said district officials take full responsibility for the data breach.

In an at-times emotional speech, Greene said she empathized with the employees who were angry over their personal information being stolen, and she said she was reminded of the stages of grief she went through when her father died.

“Grief doesn’t have to be the loss of a person, grief can also just be the loss of something we value,” Greene said.

Whatever you’re saying in that email, I may have said it to myself 10 times

Superintendent Diana Greene

She said she understood the impulse to send emails at 4 a.m., lambasting district officials for the situation, and she encouraged employees to feel free to contact her, Ciranna, or the other board members.

“I was indeed very angry and frustrated, you know, how could this have happened?” Greene said. “Know that this hasn’t gone to deaf ears. Whatever you’re probably saying in that email, I may have said it to myself 10 times. It doesn’t matter that it has happened across the country, it doesn’t matter, you just don’t want it to happen to you.”

Ryan McKinnon: 941-745-7027, @JRMcKinnon

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