School District, Police Investigate Graphic Emails Sent To Students

Parents on Madison?s north side are concerned after a graphic email landed in their children?s school inbox.

Last week, Madison mother Donna Walker discovered a disturbing email in her 10-year-old daughter?s Gmail inbox. The email account was set up at Gompers Elementary School where her daughter is in the fifth grade.

“Please sex me or I’ll kill you. With my bb gun. (Expletive) you if you don’t want to have sex with me,” the email read.

“And it’s startling when you first read it and as it sinks in. It bothers me because my first priority, my absolute first priority in life, is to make sure that I keep my children safe,” Walker said. “I think that parents need to be an advocate for the safety of their children.”

A spokesperson for the Madison Metropolitan School District confirmed that at least one student?s email was hacked and explicit emails were sent to several students in one class.

“I was very happy with the school?s reaction,” said Walker, who explained the school moved quickly after the threat to her daughter to call police, freeze Gmail accounts, and send home a letter to other parents.

“With something like this in today’s society, ? this stuff really happens,” said Walker. “The fact that I don?t know if this came from an adult, someone in the school, another student or if it came from a middle-school student. I think the fact that I don?t know is what bothers me the most.”

A representative of the Madison North District Police Department said officers are taking the situation seriously and are investigating.

Police also warn that the school’s email security system is very easy to compromise and the issue should be addressed.

“We acknowledge that we made it too convenient for somebody to gain access to somebody else’s passwords,” said Luis Yudice, the school district’s safety and security coordinator.

Yudice heads security for the district, and said the system was created for young students who are new to computers.

“That obviously left an open window where someone could gain access to those email accounts, so we have taken immediate steps to change that,” he said.

The district is also revisiting and improving online security for emails, making user names and passwords more secure, officials said.

“I don?t think personally that the kids need to have email accounts,? said Walker, who explained her daughter?s Gmail account isn?t for school work. Rather, it?s used to help children communicate online.

Whoever is responsible for the emails faces disorderly conduct charges or expulsion if it’s found to be a student, officials said.