Education / Schools

Hackers invade Gavilan College budget talks

Public meeting continues in closed session after graphic sexual content displayed on Zoom.

During the July 27 Gavilan College budget meeting on Zoom, hackers showed a graphic sexual video accompanied by graphic audio. The public meeting abruptly ended, with trustees, Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose and speaker Trennis Wright of Piper Sandler & Co. continuing on in a closed session. 

At the time of the hack, Wright was presenting a slideshow on bond spending related to Measures E and X. While the voices of the hackers were not clear, it appeared to be several males and they targeted at least one trustee. They also demanded meeting host Debbie Britt-Petty allow them to put the graphic video on full screen (it appeared only in the corner speaker box).

In a phone call with BenitoLink during the closed session, Director of Public Information Jan Bernstein Chargin said trustees decided to allow Wright to give his presentation and the rest of the agenda was tabled. On July 28, she said that Gavilan is working on putting the audio of the meeting online with the graphic material omitted so the public will have access to it. 

Rose said that going forward, Gavilan College meetings will be in an easier to control webinar format.

“We are an educational institution and we want to make sure that we have a wide open access to all conversations we are having, but now we need to do so with an enhanced level of security,” she said. 

Rose said there were several people involved in the hack and that it was easier to shut the meeting down rather than systematically kick each person off the call. She said Kyle Billups, director of IT services for the community college, is investigating the hack and gathering evidence to be reported to the County of Santa Clara. Rose added that they do have some idea of who it might have been, but she did not share that information.

The slideshow presentation and agenda are available here.


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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.