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'Cyber Dust' Accusations Cause New Headache For Fresno Unified

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Michael Hanson

The head of the Fresno Unified School District is coming under fire after claims that he instructed his staff use a cell phone app that sends messages without leaving any trace. That practice could raise ethical and legal problems for district superintendent Michael Hanson.

Journalist Mark Arax was the first to report that Hanson allegedly used the Cyber Dust app which claims it leaves no record of any of the messages sent or received.

When asked about the claims that Hanson instructed staff to use the app, the district said they could not comment because it would violate attorney-client privilege.

That’s not good enough for school board trustee Brooke Ashjian, who says if the reports are true it’s a troubling sign of secrecy at the highest levels of district administration.

“This in my mind has the same equivalent as the email scandal that are plaguing Hillary Clinton at this time. The Nixonian tapes that were secret recordings. Enough is enough,” Ashjian said.

Ashjian thinks the use of Cyber Dust could even jeopardize Hanson’s job.

Peter Scheer with the First Amendment Coalition, a California based government accountability group, says if any official district business was done on Cyber Dust it could be a violation of state open records laws.

“What’s the point after all of a freedom of information law, if there is no stored information, no records to provide copies of in response to that act,” Scheer said.

The district is already the subject of a federal investigation into how they awarded contracts for the construction of schools.

Jeffrey Hess is a reporter and Morning Edition news host for Valley Public Radio. Jeffrey was born and raised in a small town in rural southeast Ohio. After graduating from Otterbein University in Columbus, Ohio with a communications degree, Jeffrey embarked on a radio career. After brief stops at stations in Ohio and Texas, and not so brief stops in Florida and Mississippi, Jeffrey and his new wife Shivon are happy to be part Valley Public Radio.
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