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Fewer than 10 students involved in ‘inapproriate’ school email incident

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has labelled a school email spamming incident on Friday (14 August), which has identified fewer than 10 students involved, as disappointing and inappropriate.

The incident occurred when students inadvertently discovered the email distribution list code to year groups within ACT public schools and sent inappropriate material including pornographic images.

A Government spokesperson said the Education Directorate were aware of the identities of the students involved in the matter, which had been referred to ACT Policing.

Mr Barr said the digital nature of the matter made it easily traceable.

“I think it’s disappointing on a couple of levels that access to a group email was obtained, a distribution list, and then individuals took it upon themselves to distribute material that was entirely inappropriate, “ he said.

“The nature, of course, of the digital world is that all of this is easily traceable and identifiable, and so the Education Directorate will be responding to those matters.”

It is still unknown how many students were emailed during the incident and the Education Directorate shut down the school system by 1pm on Friday.

The Education Directorate had previously done an update to its Google education system in April this year and have begun an external consultation regarding the matter.

A statement from ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry’s office has reported a staged return to the online system this week, first to Google Drive and Google Classroom and then to student emails.

It is estimated students will have access to their emails by the end of this week.

Mr Barr thanked those students and families who had done the right thing during the incident.

“Yes, there’s some disruption today and yes, they need to do some further work around how they can control access to group lists,” he said. 

“But I want to thank all those students who did the right thing, who identified this problem, brought it to the attention of the education authorities, and they were able to address it quickly.”

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