LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Little Rock School Board publicly voted to approve a $250,000 ransom payment to hackers who breached the district’s system, holding critical information hostage.
Greg Adams, president of the Little Rock School Board, explained this was not the outcome that administrators were hoping for.
“It’s disturbing to think about paying any money to people who are criminals,” Adams said.
Adams said the board held an off-the-books meeting in late Nov. to discuss the cyberattack. Some community members expressed concern over a perceived lack of transparency by holding this meeting. The “Our Community, Our Schools” Facebook page posted about the decision.
“For the record, I support the district in how it is handling the attack, but the bottom line is six of our board members decided they were above the law,” the post read. “The issue for me is how government must work. Six members of the Little Rock School District failed us, and they failed democracy.”
Adams said the immediacy of the moment called for an outside-the-norm decision to have the meeting. He said he understands people’s concerns about transparency.
“We will hope that as we go on that people will give us the benefit of knowing that we were trying to do the best thing for the most people, and the safest thing,” Adams said.
Adams explained that the board members could either accept an initial ransom demand, reject it outright or negotiate. He said he could not disclose the initial request.
Adams also said the payment will possibly made as early as this week but could not say the form of payment that will be used. He said efforts are being made to shore up the district’s cybersecurity systems and prevent this from happening again.
“We’ll be able to say more about what those steps are and how that will affect the users of our system later on,” Adams said.
The district said that the FBI is involved in the investigation, but a bureau spokesperson said it is too early in the process to offer a comment.