Little Rock School Board authorizes settlement on cyber attack; agreement to cost district at least $250,000

FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.
FILE — Little Rock School District headquarters are shown in this 2019 file photo.

The Little Rock School Board on Monday authorized Superintendent Jermall Wright to enter into a settlement agreement to end as favorably as possible the current cyber attack on the 21,000-student school system's data networks.

Wright told the board at the 40-minute special meeting — during which a previously unannounced Nov. 21 private meeting of the board was disclosed — that a possible agreement with the attackers was reached earlier Monday.

The terms of that agreement will cost the capital city school system more than  a quarter of a million dollars, according to information read aloud by board member Leigh Ann Wilson. Wilson made the motion to pursue the settlement process, noting the $250,000 cost to the district, plus "fees," before she was told by a fellow board member that she was not supposed to announce dollar amounts. 

Wright told the board repeatedly  that the data breach was "horrible," that he wouldn't wish the situation on anyone and that every option before district officials to resolve the cyber  attack had negative impacts. 

"We are doing our very best to try to protect the data that was taken from us," Wright said. "I want people to understand that we are not the enemy . The enemy is the folks who attacked our system." 

He said that withholding details from the public about the data breach was necessary to the effort of  protecting information about district venders and employees while trying to resolve the issue.

The board vote was 6-3 with board president Greg Adams, Michael Mason, Sandrekkia Morning, Evelyn Callaway, Joyce Wesley and Wilson voting for the motion to pursue a settlement agreement. Board members Vicki Hatter, Norma Johnson and Ali Noland voted against it.

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