Cyberattack Forces Albuquerque Public Schools to Close 144 Schools

All 144 Albuquerque Public Schools are closed for the remainder of this week following a cyberattack that compromised the district’s attendance, communications, and transportation systems, APS announced mid-day Thursday.

With enrollment of about 74,000, APS is one of the 50 largest school districts in the country.

District IT staff discovered the problem on Wednesday, and APS posted a statement on its website and Twitter account that afternoon saying “All Albuquerque Public Schools will be closed Thursday, Jan. 13, due to a cyberattack that has compromised some systems that could impact teaching, learning, and student safety. … The district is working with contracted professionals to fix the problem.”

On Thursday afternoon, APS also canceled classes on Friday, posting online that “the district continues to investigate a cyberattack that compromised the student information system used to take attendance, contact families in emergencies, and assure that students are picked up from school by authorized adults.”

Closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, APS said it plans to re-open schools on Tuesday, Jan. 18, noting that administrative offices remained open.

APS Superintendent Scott Elder said in a brief statement posted to the district’s APS Technology YouTube channel that the attack was discovered Wednesday morning “when teachers tried to log onto our student information system and were unable to gain access to the site.”

“APS is working with local and national law enforcement as well as teams of cyber specialists to as quickly as possible limit our exposure to this attack, to protect all systems in our network and ensure a safe environment to return to school and business as usual,” Elder said.

The district’s IT department had been “mitigating attacks over the last few weeks,” he added.

A spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal she was uncertain what kind of attack it was and said she didn’t know whether those responsible had demanded a ransom.

For more information and updates, visit the APS website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].