Missouri will soon be sending letters to certificated teachers across the state whose personally identifiable information may have been compromised.

Last month, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter informed the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) of an online structure weakness with the ability to publicly show the social security numbers of about 100,000 teachers. The newspaper says it gave the state agency time to remove the online details before it published a story about the vulnerability.

A news release today from DESE says it is unaware of any misuse of individual information or if information was accessed inappropriately “outside of an isolated incident.” DESE says out of an abundance of caution and in the unlikely event that this information was inappropriately accessed “outside this single incident”, the State of Missouri is offering 12 months of credit and identity theft monitoring resources through a company called IDX to about 620,000 past and present certificated educators whose personal information was contained in a DESE certification database.

The release says potentially impacted educators will receive direct communication by mail and/or email with more details about the services offered. Teachers may contact the IDX Call Center at 833-325-1777 from 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to determine if they are among those eligible for these services.

“Educators have enough on their plates right now and I want to apologize to them for this incident and the additional inconvenience it may cause them,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “It is unacceptable. The security of the data we collect is of the utmost importance to our agency. Rest assured that we are working closely with OA-ITSD to resolve this situation.”

DESE says Missouri Office of Administration employees are working to reconfigure the educator certification search tool and to reinforce security to prevent “further unauthorized access of educators’ PII.” This incident remains under investigation.

Gov. Mike Parson has threatened criminal prosecution against the newspaper and says it was “acting against a state agency to compromise teachers’ personal information in an attempt to embarrass the state and sell headlines.” He said the problem could cost the state as much as $50 million.

The services offered through IDX will cost the state roughly $800,000.

For updates on this situation, DESE says information is available at dese.mo.gov/data-incident.

Earlier stories:

PARSON THREATENS CRIMINAL CHARGES IN STATE DATA COMPROMISE: https://www.missourinet.com/2021/10/14/parson-threatens-criminal-charges-in-state-data-compromise/

(AUDIO) GOP LAWMAKER SAYS PARSON HAS GONE TOO FAR IN THREATENING PROSECUTION IN STATE’S FLAWED APPLICATION: https://www.missourinet.com/2021/10/15/audio-gop-lawmaker-says-parson-has-gone-too-far-in-threatening-prosecution-in-state-data-flaw/

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