Officials: Student Info Breached In Bemus Point

A data breach through a program that helps students prepare for college may have affected students in the Bemus Point School District, board members were told at a meeting earlier this week. The board also heard from candidates who were running for open school board seats. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

BEMUS POINT — Bemus Point Superintendent Michael Mansfield addressed at a school board meeting earlier this week the data breach of a program that may have affected students in the district.

In late April, Maia Learning — a comprehensive guidance program that helps students plan for college — was breached by a competing company that potentially compromised student information that included dates of birth, addresses and names of students. Mansfield said he sent a letter to parents in the district addressing the data breach.

The program is utilized among students in sixth through 12th grades but has not fully been implemented for all students.

The middle-high school is made up of about 400 students; the number of student whose information may have been breached isn’t known, Mansfield said.

The superintendent said Maia Learning informed Erie-1 BOCES, which is who Bemus Point purchased the software through, in April and the district wasn’t informed until a later date. The superintendent said there have been steps made by Erie-1 BOCES to streamline communication in the event of another incident. Mansfield said the district will continue to use the program.

More sensitive information such as student social security numbers were not part of the breach.

During Monday’s meeting, board candidates Shawn Hricko, John Novotny and Margaret Spence gave statements regarding their then future appointment.

Novotny, current board president, was not able to attend but Mansfield read a statement provided by Novotny that emphasized the success the district has had but that there is more work to do.

The fresh faces of Hricko and Spence gave the board more background information on themselves. Hricko has lived in the district since 2013 and is an engineer at Cummins Engines. Originally from Pennsylvania, he sits on a board at Penn State University and is involved with numerous outreach programs involving the community through Cummins.

With two children entering the elementary school and his interest in education, he wants to give back to the community.

Hricko said he wants to “be part of what you have going on here and to be part of this great community and see what I can do to help out.”

Spence told the board that with her 53 years of education experience she will be able to assist the board in numerous ways.

“I’ve been preparing for such a task most of my life,” Spence said of her long career.

Spence has a bachelor’s degree in history, a master’s degree in teaching and a doctorates degree in curriculum and supervision.

“I feel the variety of experiences and the variety of communities that I have served in and the various roles has prepared me for this next journey serving our district,” she said.

In other news, Mansfield briefly updated the board on programs for the 2018-19 school year.

As for the elementary school, he said that other districts have taken a look at how the Bemus Point district is handling their STEAM programs.

“We’re kind of leading the way on that. That’s great,” he said.

Regarding the middle/high school, Mansfield highlighted increasing opportunities for interest areas in curriculum and the rigor of the classes that are offered.

“(Universities) want to see rigor,” Mansfield said. “They want to see that (a student) has taken a wide range of classes and that (they have) done well.”

Mansfield said a more detailed preview of next year will be given at June’s regular meeting.

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