The Streator High School administration conducted an investigation into online security items brought to the board’s attention by a student who also is running for school board.
And with an upcoming election Tuesday, the issue has come to a head.
After interviews with teachers involved, audits of student computers and administrators meeting with the student candidate, Board President Earl Woeltje said in an inteview Monday the high school found no proof or cause for concern of the security items addressed at the March 19 meeting.
A 200-page report was shared with board members. Woeltje said administrators commonly follow up with board members when questions are raised at board meetings.
Richard “Hank” Tutoky, a senior, who is running for school board, said at the meeting the setup of a Linux machine that works with the school’s server was done by a student — someone who is not a professional — which is a decision he disagrees with. The servers were down at the high school for a period of time.
Woeltje said the student’s Linux machine was brought into the school to do a diagnosis while the school’s servers were down and it was supervised by the school’s technology director. Woeltje said trusted students are selected to work in the school’s technology program and are given hands-on learning opportunities.
Woeltje said Cisco-Meraki, which is the manufacturer and host of the district’s cloud-based WiFi system, accepted full responsibility for the servers going down.
Additionally, Tutoky took issue at the board meeting with a student whom he said had an “unblocked” Chromebook, which allows the student to utilize certain programs blocked by the school.
Woeltje said the Chromebook of the student in question was examined and no inappropriate activity was found. The board president said the student approached the dean of students to show him of some ways students can get around the blocks, but didn’t abuse them himself or herself.
An investigation was conducted after Superintendent Matt Seaton asked Tutoky during the meeting to sit down and meet with him privately, since Tutoky’s concern involved discussing personnel and involved followup with other parties.
Woeltje said Tutoky, whose father, Rich, also is on the school board, was unable to present information for the investigation to prove the student was acting inappropriately or that security had been breached.
After being told the result of the high school’s investigation, Tutoky said he still believes the Linux computer should not have been used.
“(It) was not a school-owned computer but rather personal property of the student,” Tutoky said. “I believe that to be a security breach. We as a high school employ a technical director.”
Tutoky also said he doesn’t understand why a student explained information to the dean of students.
“As I said at the board meeting, this student is not a technical department employee,” said Tutoky, who noted he has not seen the investigative report. “Why and how does he have administrative information on an unblocked Chromebook? If this is the result of an administrative investigation, ‘unfounded’ is not representative of my allegation. I brought this information to the board precisely because no one could see the seriousness of the allegation. Security should be paramount, whether physical or cyber.”
Following the board meeting, Seaton said the school takes security issues seriously, which is why he invited Tutoky to visit him in his office. Woeltje also said the investigation was a result of the district taking the concerns seriously.
Tutoky said during the board meeting, the staff members he spoke with followed up with their superiors and “nothing has been done about it.” Staff members said in statements those comments are false. They weren’t approached and didn’t talk to administrators.
The investigation also showed emails Seaton sent asking Tutoky to meet with him were ignored several times, Woeltje said.
Woeltje said Tutoky’s comments put him in an “uncomfortable position.” Board policy dictates he is the spokesman for the board.
“The magnitude of the accusations made at our superintendent and administration needs to be addressed,” Woeltje said. “But with that said, I too am running for re-election against Hank for a school board position. As the board president, I am the board spokesman, so I am going to just state the facts (in media interviews).”
Board member Steve Biroschik, who also is running for re-election, said he didn’t want Woeltje speaking for him. He said the board received the investigation results, and he hasn’t reviewed them in-full. He said Woeltje shouldn’t have commented until after a meeting was held.
Woeltje said the incident didn’t warrant a special meeting, but there was a necessity for the public to know the result of the investigation prior to the election.
Four board seats are open in Tuesday’s election. Along with Woeltje, Tutoky and Biroschik, Mike Mast, Gregory Dean and Eric Hoffmeyer are running for the board.
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