Lebanon students to finally receive grades from June after cyberattack delay

By NORA DOYLE-BURR

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-27-2023 5:11 PM

WEST LEBANON — Middle and high school students in the Lebanon School District are expected to receive their grades for the academic year that ended in June next week. The delayed release comes after some of the district’s key systems were taken offline as a precaution following a June cyberattack.

PowerSchool, a student information database where students and families can go to see grades, is expected to be back online for families on Friday, Aug. 4, according to Superintendent Amy Allen, a former assistant superintendent in Manchester who started work in Lebanon on July 1. Report cards for elementary school students were sent home at the end of the school year, but older students have yet to receive their grades.

Teachers have had access again to the database for about a week and have been going in to check if any grades are missing, Allen said.

Should students who are receiving delayed grades wish to contest them, they should contact their teachers directly, she said.

The cyber attack also forced the district to take its payroll system offline temporarily.

“It was challenging for all of us,” Allen said of the attack in an interview this week at the SAU 88 offices on Seminary Hill.

However, she noted, grades for seniors who graduated in June were sent along to their colleges and other post-secondary institutions prior the June 15 attack.

The district, in conjunction with contracted outside cybersecurity experts, has completed an investigation of the incident and “found no evidence that it resulted in unauthorized access to or acquisition of personal information,” Allen said in a written statement.

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On Wednesday, Allen said she couldn’t say “at this point” what led to the attack, but the district is focused on securing its systems to prevent another.

Even so, in a message to parents this week, Allen encouraged them to be “vigilant about the possibility of fraud and identity theft” by regularly reviewing credit reports, and credit card, bank and other financial statements for any unauthorized activity.

An annual free report from each of the three major credit bureaus can be obtained at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228, which is toll-free.

The Lebanon School Board also was scheduled to vote at a Thursday afternoon meeting on the purchase of SentinelOne, a managed detection and response service. The service is expected to cost $54,000 annually, Allen said.

The program has already been installed on the district’s more than 500 machines, which Allen said Wednesday were being returned to their respective schools. Following the attack, the district’s summer programs have used Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

In the coming week, Allen said she expects the district will conduct an analysis of how much the attack cost the district, from beginning to end. Expenses have included hiring investigators to research the incident, a cybersecurity attorney and extra staff time.

Also this month, the district’s director of information technology, Peter Merritt, is retiring. Allen conducted interviews with candidates for Merritt’s replacement on Wednesday. The district also is seeking to replace another member of the five-person IT department who left in June.

She said she expects Merritt’s replacement will conduct an audit of all of the district’s cyber protocols with an eye toward enhancing security.

Ensuring the district upgrades its security systems as technology evolves is “really important,” Allen said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.