After a disastrous digital debut of the $15 million K12 platform, Miami-Dade County Public Schools is moving to Plan B. Here’s the statement from Miami-Dade County Public Schools:
Important Update Regarding the Use of My School Online Platform
The first three days of distance learning for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) students, parents, teachers and administrators have been challenging. The District continues to be the target of various cyber attacks designed to cause disruptions in Internet service, impeding teaching and learning. These attacks, as well as an initial third-party software glitch, have hampered M-DCPS’ ability to detect, diagnose and resolve issues that users may be experiencing on the K12 platform, used for My School Online. The District is making necessary adjustments to the platform to resolve any issues and provide an improved online educational experience.
Beginning tomorrow, September 3, all students in grades 6-12 will utilize Microsoft Teams, Zoom through Microsoft Teams or an alternate pathway, as determined by each school and teacher, for live instruction. While the K12 platform is suspended for these grade levels, District staff will work with K12 to address all issues that have been detected and generate solutions to optimize the experience as expected. K12 has experienced problems nationally with the system these higher grades utilize for distance learning.
Attention Eagles! As of tomorrow, all classes will be held on Microsoft Teams. For instructions on how to enter Microsoft Teams visit https://t.co/9v41ffY4Ge and scroll down for the yellow button shown below 🦅 pic.twitter.com/Lk6HQF8s6W
— Miami Springs Middle (@MSMSEagles) September 3, 2020
Students in grades Pre-K-5 will continue to use the K12 platform for Class Connect sessions and coursework. Data analysis indicates that while there are still some connectivity challenges in this area for these grades, overall student performance and engagement supports remaining on the platform. Teachers will have an opportunity to provide direct feedback. District staff and K12 managers will actively work to address any issues.
— Springview Elem (@SpringviewElem) September 2, 2020
By September 11, the District will make a determination on whether a return to the K12 platform is recommended for grades 6-12, as well as the continued use of the platform for grades Pre-K-5.
UPDATE: Arrest Made in Cyber Attacks Against M-DCPS
Here’s the press release issued by MDCPS:
Early this morning, Miami-Dade Schools Police (M-DSPD) made an arrest related to the cyber-attacks that have maliciously disrupted teaching and learning since school began on Monday. M-DSPD detectives traced an IP address responsible for the attacks to a 16-year-old student, a junior at South Miami Senior High School. A thorough investigation is being conducted by M-DSPD, working jointly with the FBI, the Secret Service and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
The student admitted to orchestrating eight Distributed Denial-of-Service cyber attacks, designed to overwhelm District networks, including web-based systems needed for My School Online. The student used an online application to carry out these attacks and has been charged with Computer Use in an Attempt to Defraud – a 3rd degree felony, and Interference with an Educational Institution – a 2nd degree misdemeanor.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) has been the target of more than a dozen of these types of attacks since the 2020-2021 school year began. Detectives are continuing their investigation to determine whether additional individuals are responsible for the attacks.
“We believe, based upon our investigation, that other attackers are out there. We will not rest until every one of them is caught and brought to justice. Cyber attacks are serious crimes, which have far-reaching negative impacts. Our message to anyone thinking of attempting a criminal act like this is to think twice. We will find you,” said M-DSPD Chief Edwin Lopez.
“I commend our detectives, the FBI, Secret Service, and FDLE for their tireless efforts to pursue those responsible for these attacks. It is disheartening that one of our own students has admitted to intentionally causing this kind of disruption, however, I am confident that the M-DCPS family will continue to show its resilience and commitment to education, in the face of adversity,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho.
UPDATE OPINION: We’re happy to see the school district was able to identify the source of the DDOS attack. I think if the kid is that bright to bring down an entire school platform, they should hire him for testing the reliability of the school network. Seems like the kid has a bright future ahead of him.
Now, we’ll see if everything begins to work or whether new problems begin to happen. We still feel the new $15 million K12 platform was rushed in just a few weeks instead of the normal months it would take to properly test and rollout. We are happy the County is moving to Microsoft Teams and Zoom for a couple of reasons. (1) Zoom and Microsoft Teams already proved to work for the school system at the end of the last school year. It’s proven. It works. (2) If we’re trying to prepare students for the real world, the real world uses Microsoft Teams and Zoom. So teaching kids to use the proprietary k12 platform provides no long term technical skill set. (3) Teams and Zoom are not centralized like the K12 platform making them less susceptible to the kinds of single point of failure issues that are plaguing the K12 platform. Again, we praise the county’s move to the backup platforms.
However, after this arrest, our patience has worn out. If this platform continues to fail, we suggest the county do everything possible to get as much of that $15 million investment back.