District charging former employees for credit monitoring

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For information on protecting your identity, including prevention and protection tips, visit www.insideIDtheft.info.

Are you at risk?

If you have worked for the Steamboat Springs School District in the past 10 years, your name and Social Security number were likely on a district laptop stolen Feb. 24. To check if your name and SSN were compromised, call the district office at 970-871-3199. The district also is sending a letter to everyone on the list. If you receive a letter regarding the theft, your name and Social Security number were on the laptop.

Credit monitoring

Former Steamboat Springs School District employees who want to enroll in the district's discount-rate credit monitoring can submit a check for $40 to Human Resources Director Anne Muhme by March 13. The program is optional.

— The Steamboat Springs School District is offering discounted credit monitoring for about 900 former employees whose Social Security numbers were on a stolen laptop, but some retirees aren't pleased they have to pay anything to protect their credit.

The district will offer a year's worth of credit monitoring for $40 to former employees whose Social Security numbers were on the laptop stolen from Finance Director Dale Mellor's office the night of Feb. 24. That price is a discount from the regular price of $100 individuals would pay on their own for EquiFax monitoring, District Human Resources Director Anne Muhme said.

The district will cover the cost of credit monitoring for 423 current employees, including substitutes and other part-time positions.

The coverage for current employees will cost the district about $17,000, Muhme said. Covering past and present employees would have cost about $52,000.

"We're having to come up with the funds to do this," Muhme said. "We thought a good compromise would be at least to get the reduced price."

The program for past employees is optional. If they are interested, former employees should turn in a check to Muhme by March 13.

The district has informed current employees of the plan, and Muhme said the district will send out letters to everyone affected by the theft.

Former Soda Creek Elementary School Principal Steve Kaufman isn't happy with the district's response.

"I'm outraged," he said. "If it was my own fault that my Social Security number is out there somewhere, I'd pony up $40, $100, $120, whatever. But I didn't do anything. Why do I have to pay?"

Kaufman retired nearly nine years ago after working for the district for 22 years. Social Security numbers on the stolen laptop included employees for about the past 10 years, Muhme said.

Cindy Walker, who worked for the district for 32 years, said she and her husband, Winston Walker, who spent 31 years in the district, also are unhappy about having to pay for credit protection.

"We feel that we should be offered the same deal as current employees," she said.

Cindy Walker received her last paycheck last month after retiring from the district's technology team last year. She said she already has contacted her bank and has established a fraud alert with all three credit agencies after finding out about the break-in, but she is unsure whether she will take the district up on the discounted credit monitoring.

Former Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher and current substitute bus driver Johnny Walker (no relation to Cindy and Winston) said the district's offer isn't fair to his former colleagues. Johnny Walker will receive the benefits for free because he remains on the district payroll.

"It's not very respectful of past employees," he said. "Somebody screws up on the records and then they send you a bill to protect yourself."

Steamboat Springs School Board member John DeVincentis, a former Strawberry Park Elementary School principal whose Social Security number also was on the stolen laptop, said he has heard from several frustrated former employees. DeVincentis would like the district to show its concern and appreciation for those former employees without paying the $52,000 it would cost to provide monitoring for everyone.

"I'm looking for an in-between, something that keeps good feelings between the old staff and current staff and the School Board. Fifty-two thousand dollars is not worth it, probably, in my eyes," he said.

DeVincentis suggested offering a picnic or a free school program for those affected.

"Just something that says you guys are worth at least a picnic or a talk or to do something fun together," he said.

Comments

Julie Green 5 years, 5 months ago

This is shameful! My daughter worked as a Special Needs Teacher's Aid for two years at $9.00/hr and had to live at home in order to make ends meet. Teachers aren't paid enough as it is, much less penalize them for something that is the District's fault?

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justice4all 5 years, 5 months ago

Protecting the former employees the same as current employees is the only fair thing to do. Besides, it will be much less expensive than a civil suit if the former employees' privacy is breached.

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diplodocus 5 years, 4 months ago

Maybe Dale Mellor should foot the bill for all former employees whose identity has been compromised. Maybe he would learn not to have sensitive data on a laptop. It's bad enough to have to worry about hackers without having to worry about irresponsible administrators leaving the gate open. What possible use could the ss# of teachers' aides from 8 years ago be anyway? That info should be on the server with adequate safeguards to keep hackers out. I hope Mr. Mellor receives some kind of reprimand for this irresponsible act.

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