Personal and confidential documents of young students have been stolen and “dumped” online by ransomware gangs. “They describe student sexual assaults, psychiatric hospitalizations, abusive parents, truancy — even suicide attempts” reports the Associated Press.
“Please do something,” begged one of the students in one leaked file, recalling the trauma of continually bumping into an ex-abuser at a school in Minneapolis. Other victims talked about wetting the bed or crying themselves to sleep.
Complete sexual assault case folios containing these details were among more than 300,000 files dumped online in March after the 36,000-student Minneapolis Public Schools refused to pay a $1 million ransom. Other exposed data included medical records and discrimination complaints.
Rich in digitized data, the nation’s schools are prime targets for far-flung criminal hackers, who are assiduously locating and scooping up sensitive files.
Often strapped for cash, districts are grossly ill-equipped not just to defend themselves but to respond diligently and transparently when attacked, especially as they struggle to help kids catch up from the pandemic and grapple with shrinking budgets.
The Associated Press reached families of six students whose sexual assault case files were exposed. The message from a reporter was the first time anyone had alerted them.
“Truth is, they didn’t notify us about anything,” said a mother whose son’s case file has 80 documents.
Ransomware likely has affected well over 5 million U.S. students by now, with district attacks on track to rise this year, said analyst Allan Liska of the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. Nearly one in three U.S. districts had been breached by the end of 2021, according to a survey by the Center for Internet Security, a federally funded nonprofit.
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Department of Education Office of Civil Rights opens investigation into Harvard University
On Tuesday the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights opened an investigation into Harvard University in order to determine if the school has fulfilled legal obligation to respond to the increase in antisemitic incidents after Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on October 7th.
The university agreed to cooperate with the investigation in a statement issued Wednesday. “We support the work of the Office for Civil Rights to ensure students’ rights to access educational programs are safeguarded and will work with the office to address their questions,” the statement read.
The DOE has also opened investigations into Columbia University, Cornell University, Wellesley College, and the University of Pennsylvania this month over “discrimination involving shared ancestry” under Title VI.
the investigation was prompted after a complaint which stated Harvard “discriminated against students on the basis of their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) when it failed to respond appropriately to reports of incidents of harassment,”
National Review reports that while the Office of Civil Rights does not typically disclose which specific complaints prompted an investigation, there have been several high-profile incidents of antisemitism at Harvard and other Ivy league universities in recent weeks.
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman sent an open letter to Harvard president Claudine Gay earlier this month which cited the confrontation at the “die-in” and urged her to take action to protect Jewish students.
“Jewish students are being bullied, physically intimidated, spat on, and in several widely-disseminated videos of one such incident, physically assaulted,” Mr. Ackman wrote. “On-campus protesters on the Widener Library steps and elsewhere shout, ‘Intifada! Intifada! Intifada! From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall be Free!’”
Harvard President Claudine Gay released a statement about “combatting antisemitism” on November 9:
“I affirm our commitment to protecting all members of our community from harassment and marginalization, and our commitment to meeting antisemitism head-on, with the determination it demands,” Gay said. “Let me reiterate what I and other Harvard leaders have said previously: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard.”
Among the antisemitic events that have circulated national news are how just days after the Hamas attack, a 19-year-old Columbia student was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Israeli student who was trying to prevent the suspect from tearing down posters of Israeli hostages. Also at Cornell, a 21-year-old student was arrested for allegedly threatening to murder and rape his Jewish classmates on an anonymous online message board.
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