Bend Police are investigating the alleged theft of thousands of computerized student files by the former principal of the K-8 Seven Peaks School, Megan Martin.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel asked Bend Police to look into the incident, he said Wednesday.
“I definitely wouldn’t say we suspect a crime was committed,” Hummel said. “It’s a preliminary investigation, just to kick the tires and see if there’s any potential crime.”
After the school fired Martin on Sept. 7, it filed a lawsuit against her, seeking the return of about 5,900 electronic files the school alleges she downloaded illegally, according to the lawsuit filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
The school “specifically instructed” Martin to not access school accounts and hand in any Seven Peaks property, including files, computers, keys and keycards, according to court documents.
Hummel said given the allegations, it’s worth having police talk to the school. He’s keen to look into incidents involving banking records, medical records or school records involving children, Hummel said.
According to court documents, Martin returned her school-issued laptop and school keys the day after she was fired, Sept. 8. Martin allegedly accessed the files, which the school said contained highly sensitive student information, including psychological evaluations, on Sept. 6 and Sept. 11. A few days later, on Sept. 14, the school’s board of directors learned Martin had downloaded the files.
About a week before filing the lawsuit on Sept. 22, the school sent — then hand-delivered — a letter to Martin asking she return the files and “mitigate the harm cause by her actions.”
Kent Vallier, Seven Peaks School’s interim principal, confirmed Thursday via email the school had been “contacted by local authorities regarding the data breach.”
“We are cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” Vallier said in the email. “At this point, the matter is out of our hands. While it’s been an unfortunate situation, our school is moving forward with confidence and continued focus on what matters most — providing academic excellence for our terrific students and supporting our community.”
At the school’s recent back-to-school night, the board shared that “progress had been made on returning files,” Vallier said, adding “when files number in the thousands, it takes time and diligence to ensure an ‘all returned’ determination.” Vallier, who was the school’s assistant principal beginning in August 2014, was named interim principal after Martin’s termination.
Martin did not return a phone call Thursday. Todd Grover, the Bend attorney representing Martin in the suit, said it’s not appropriate for her to give comments on pending litigation.
“She’s working cooperatively with the school, and she will do the same with any investigation being conducted by Mr. Hummel,” Grover said.
Lt. Clint Burleigh, a spokesman for Bend Police, said he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation for risk of compromising it. Burleigh said a detective has been assigned to the investigation.
“I can tell you similar reported investigations can be considered computer crime or theft of proprietary information,” Burleigh said in an email Thursday. “They range from high misdemeanors and lower level felonies. I am sure there are other crimes that could be charged in a similar case.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com