Edcouch-Elsa ISD makes changes after data breach

The Edcouch-Elsa school district is taking further action to address the sale of computers with sensitive information through policy changes and efforts in public transparency after failing to do so earlier this year.

Administration sent a letter Sept. 5 to all district parents with information about an April 6 auction in which computers with sensitive information, such as names, Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers, were sold.

The letter indicated the information on those computers came from two locations: Truan Junior High School and the Transportation Department.

The district unintentionally sold the computers April 6 after failing to adhere to procedures in place by district employees, according to previous Monitor stories. A buyer at the auction notified the district and sent the computers to the Texas Attorney General’s office.

Interim Superintendent Richard Rivera, who was not in charge when the incident occurred, is currently in communication with Steven Robinson, assistant attorney general with the consumer protection division in San Antonio, to get the computers back in the district’s possession for “proper disposal.”

“Once the attorney general feels that everything is in line with what I did, he’s going to release them back to us,” Rivera said.

The district will also pay back the buyer, Rivera said.

As of Friday, there were two computers with sensitive information outside the district’s possession, one from the transportation department and the other from Truan Junior High School.

Actions taken against staff members involved in the auction are considered a personnel matter, according to the interim superintendent. The district will no longer put computer surplus equipment up for surplus auction and will recycle technology equipment instead, according to the press release sent Friday.

Although he did not want to name or comment on how many terminations stemmed from the incident, the principal at Truan Junior High School left the district in May, during the time of the incident, Rivera said.

Rivera can’t take action against the former principal, who essentially bypassed procedures in place by ordering his staff to take computers directly to the site without proper authorization, because he had already left his post.

Rivera began his investigation in early July and the district held a board meeting July 24 to publicly address the investigation.

“In the future, the district will be eliminating its computer surplus equipment sales from the district surplus auction. This change will prevent this incident from happening again in the future,” Rivera said in an Aug. 28 letter posted on the district website.

District officials released a letter on the district website on August 28 publically informing the community of the situation, along with another letter mailed to parents of students enrolled at Truan Junior High School during the 2018-19 school year on August 30.

The district also held a meeting Sept. 2 with the transportation employees to explain that their personal information had been compromised. The prior administration did not publicly address or notify the parents of students affected, according to one of the letters.

District staff have also contacted buyers that purchased computers at the April 6 auction, who have said there was no sensitive information on the purchased equipment, according to the news release.

“My staff has contacted all of the ones that purchased computers, and according to buyer, there was nothing in there, no sensitive information,” Rivera said.