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Broward State Attorney’s Office declines investigation into ransomware attack allegations

Broward County, Florida – The Broward State Attorney’s Office has declined to pursue an investigation into claims of misappropriation of confidential details regarding a ransomware attack by former Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and two other prior administrators. The district had formally requested the State Attorney’s Office to scrutinize the conduct of Runcie, along with ex-Safety Chief Brian Katz and former Chief Information Officer Phil Dunn. Their examination yielded no indications of illicit behavior.

District spokesperson Keyla Concepcion confirmed that the district would not be undertaking any internal probes. This development is in the wake of a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel which suggested that the district had attempted to obscure a significant ransomware attack in March 2021, potentially affecting around 50,000 individuals. Subsequently, details pertaining to this attack were disclosed by Katz and Dunn’s enterprise, Safer School Solutions.

The said company, Safer School Solutions, which clinched a contract valued at $1 million with the nonprofit Chiefs for Change, currently under Runcie’s leadership, has refuted any misconduct. Each of the aforementioned administrators departed the district in 2021. Runcie transitioned to Chiefs for Change, while Katz and Dunn embarked on their venture with Safer School Solutions.

The ransomware intrusion came to the district’s notice on March 7, 2021. However, it took three weeks for them to publicly recognize the incident. Confirmation arrived when hackers publicized a dialogue transcript of the ensuing negotiations. The district then prompted its staff to keep a vigilant eye on their financial transactions and credit histories, asserting the absence of any breach of personal data. Contrarily, by June 2021, it became evident that personal records had been compromised. Yet, it wasn’t until November 2021 that the district proceeded to alert those potentially affected, inadvertently violating the federal mandate which necessitates a notification within 60 days.

The district’s approach towards the ransomware incident, coupled with the perceived exploitation of data for private enterprise, has stirred debate. Board member Nora Rupert is amongst several voicing their concerns and seeking an inquiry. A case study related to Safer School Solutions, composed by Runcie, Katz, and Dunn, unveiled numerous previously undisclosed aspects of the attack. However, a formal in-depth probe will remain dormant unless fresh evidence emerges.

Lowell Bowen

From the time he was 8 years old Lowell knew he wanted to be on TV. Well, as people say one thing leads to another, that's how Lowell started his career in the news industry. Lowell has been part of The South Florida Daily since the very beginning.

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