SCOTCH PLAINS — After opening its doors on Tuesday, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood school district called an emergency remote-learning day for January 22. At first, the district believed that a hardware problem was causing disruptions to its internet connection, but after further inspection, found that the district had been the victim of a cyber-attack. “It is serious, but fixable,” Superintendent Joan Mast, Ed.D., said at Thursday evening’s board of education meeting.
In a letter on January 22, Dr. Mast wrote, “Our tech team identified a DDoS attempt, which is a malicious attack disrupting the normal traffic pattern of a targeted network.” Dr. Mast also addressed parent concerns in the letter, writing that there was no threat to home networks or personal information as a result of the attack. She additionally noted, “the district has reported the attack on our network to both the New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) as well as the F.B.I.” In-person schooling was able to resume on January 25.
The board presented a tribute to the educators who were named New Jersey Governor’s Educator or Educational Services Professional of the Year. The winners of the Governor’s Educator of the Year are Jeff Koegel (Scotch Plains- Fanwood High School), Susan Vidolin-Hart (Park Middle School), Sarah Odim (Terrill Middle School), Raquel Santiago (Brunner Elementary School), Lori Travers (Coles Elementary School), Marisa Pucci (Evergreen Elementary School), Karen Sanchez (McGinn Elementary School) and Cristina Shea (School One Elementary). The Educational Services Professional winners are Jennifer De los Santos (Park), Maggie Lester (Brunner), Yasminda Hall (Coles), Darlene Tomasulo (Evergreen), Kristine Iarussi (McGinn) and Lisa Bethune (School One). “I am so amazed by all the talent we have in the district,” said Board President Dr. Karen Kulikowski.
Members of the board also were honored with a short video tribute for School Board Recognition Month.
The board approved $4,750 to conduct focus groups as a part of the district’s communication plan. Board member Deb Brody said the groups will be comprised of parents, administrators, staff, community members and the board of education, and will represent a cross-section of people, with varying opinions on the district’s decisions. The focus groups began meeting Monday and will continue to meet through February 10, according to Business Administrator Deborah Saridaki.