District still grappling with the effects of ‘Security Breach’

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – A Cedar Rapids Community School District bus driver told our KCRG-TV9 i9 investigation team that the district’s computers and servers are still not working after the district closed due to of a “cybersecurity incident” more than two weeks ago.

Christine Huston, who said she drove school buses for 13 years, gave us a letter from the district calling the incident a “safety breach.” According to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, state law defines a security breach as any unauthorized acquisition of personal information.

If 500 people are affected by the breach, the attorney general’s website said the entity must notify its office within five business days of notifying affected individuals. A spokesperson said his office received no notification from the district.

Nicole Kooiker, who is the district’s assistant superintendent, said in an email that a letter was to be mailed Friday to all district employees. The district refused to answer any questions about the security breach for more than two weeks.

Huston said she started receiving text messages from random numbers trying to get her to buy miracle pills. She said she feared her data had been leaked.

“What if they have my social security card or my number or something,” Huston asked. “They definitely have my name, they have my phone number. So what else could they have?

Erin Davis, who has three children in the school district, said she’s worried about how the district can start school when teacher assignments haven’t yet been released. She said parents deserve to know if their child’s data has been stolen.

“These are my kids, the district has to do with my kids and their well-being,” Davis said. “And parents have the right to know at all times what is happening in our district.”

She said the lack of communication from the school district has been an ongoing issue since the start of the pandemic.

Huston said she was also frustrated at not getting paid after not being able to work during the shutdown. She said it’s unfair to those who depend on district money to pay their bills.

“It can be pennies for people upstairs,” Huston said. But, it’s a car payment, it’s a house payment, it’s food for a week.

Assistant Superintendent Nicole Kooiker said in an email that the district will not pay for additional work that was scheduled but did not occur, which is the same process it has always used to pay for employees.

Huston said she was disappointed with the district’s description as extra because she thinks driving a school bus is essential.

“Like I love my job and I love the district, but I feel like sometimes the district doesn’t love us back,” she said. “And I’m not the only one feeling this. Many of us bus drivers are just frustrated with why are we getting lost? Why can’t you just pay us?

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