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Cyber attack shuts down district in suburban Kansas City

March 22, 2021
The malware attack affected many of the applications the Park Hill (Mo.) district uses for instruction and school operations.

The Park Hill School District in Kansas City, Mo., is turning to national experts and the FBI to determine the extent of a cyber attack that forced the district to cancel both in-person and online classes Monday and Tuesday.

The Kansas City Star reports that the malware attack occurred early Sunday morning and affected many of the applications that the district uses for instruction and school operations.

“Our technology team has worked for more than 24 hours to try to restore our systems and we are working with national experts, including some from the FBI to investigate this issue and try to minimize damage,” says Jeanette Cowherd, Park Hill superintendent.

The district decided Monday evening to cancel classes on Tuesday as technical staff planned to continue working through the night to get the system back online.

Cowherd says classes have been canceled not only because students wouldn’t have access to their applications, but also because of school safety concerns.

Staff members need to have access to the emergency contacts for its students in case something happens. The district’s phones were working, but it was difficult to get to its website and emails were running slower.

The laptops that students take home were not affected, but students weren’t able to access many of the applications that they use to do their school work.

The cancellation of classes comes at a time students in grades 6 to12 were preparing to return to classrooms.

“We were going to have everybody in school — it was our first day of school basically,” Cowherd says. “That’s why we worked so hard to try to get school opened today is because it was such an important day and every day of learning is important for us.”

The district, which serves a northwest section of Kansas City that lies north of the Missouri River, has an K-12 enrollment of just under 12,000 students and 1,800 teachers and staff members. Based on it’s enrollment, it’s the 16th largest school district in Missouri.

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