Problems with the computer system at Lyons-Brookfield Elementary School District 103 has resulted in parent complaints of student registration fees not being credited and student information not transferring from the primary schools to George Washington Middle School, the school board heard at the Sept. 10 meeting of the whole.
The transition has been rocky between the longtime former tech team of former Technology Director Bryan Drozd and Network Administrator Jakob Banbor and the district’s new technology director, John Williamsen.
Williamsen said in a phone call last week that he had been sending emails back and forth to Banbor and Drozd because no one on staff had knowledge of the system.
“Unfortunately, I came into a situation where the network administrator was not here,” Williamsen said. “They answered questions when I needed answers.”
Last week, Drozd, who moved onto a larger school district, complained on his personal blog that Williamsen pestered him with 24 email demands for help between July and August — sometimes up to four per day.
Meanwhile, at the Sept. 10 board meeting, Williamsen and District 103 Interim Superintendent Kyle Hastings alleged that important computer files were removed by unknown persons from the district’s servers.
“One day [the files] were there and the next day they weren’t,” Williamsen said. “I’m in the process of restoring all that information.”
Hastings, meanwhile, intimated that he believed someone from outside the district was hacking the computer network and removing files.
“There was a certain file marked ‘Do Not Touch,’ clearly marked, and I guess it was touched, because it was removed. Stuff like that that just doesn’t disappear out of the clear blue sky. Someone can get into the computer the back way, whether they work for the district or not.
“When I was a young kid, my mom always said, ‘There’s a fox in the henhouse,'” Hastings said. “I think there’s a fox in the henhouse with our technology.”
Hastings said a forensic analysis would be done, and if someone could be identified as breaking into the system, the district would press charges.
School board member Joanne Schaeffer asked why a former employee would still have access to the system and was told all accounts were cut off.
“I cannot believe either Jakub or Bryan would do what you’re saying,” Schaeffer said.
Williamsen said no one has accused the former employees of any wrongdoing.
“I didn’t say they did,” Williamsen replied to Schaeffer. “I said we have a security breach.”
Williamsen recommended a “granular” network safety review by an outside company of the district’s computer systems. The security scan will cost around $1,500, Hastings said.
The Landmark has filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain copies of email correspondence between Williamsen and the two former employees, and between Williamsen and Hastings.
The school district’s attorney, Leslie Quade Kennedy, responded that the district needed additional time to review the request.
But last week, Drozd published a series of email exchanges between him and Williamsen on his personal website and posted the link on a Lyons community page on Facebook. The Landmark was unable to reach Banbor.
On a social media message, Drozd gave behind-the-scenes reasons for leaving his eight-year career at District 103.
“The very first directive given to me by Mr. Hastings within 5 minutes of meeting me was this: Provide him with a copy of all the files from the computers of [former district secretary] Marge Hubacek and Kevin Slattery (former director of finance),” Drozd wrote. “That directive told me everything I needed to know about how things would be run moving forward. And it is the precise moment when I knew I had to leave, knew that I could not mortgage my professional soul to such a person.”
Meanwhile, in an email response to questions from the Landmark, Drozd suggested that the loss of files from the network may have less to do with intentional sabotage and more to do with a technology department in turmoil.
The district’s systems administrator position still has not been filled, he noted, almost three months after Banbor’s departure.
“I have no doubt that Mr. Williamsen is swamped,” Drozd wrote. “Perhaps he could better handle his role if that [systems administrator] position had been filled, and perhaps the supposed ‘sabotage’ the district seems to think is occurring is more a side effect of one person trying to do the job of two.
“The whole situation is depressing and it’s terribly disappointing to me to hear about what is happening there and to see what we built up in the technology department allowed to crumble away.”