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Where: Alamo Heights ISD, San Antonio, Texas
What: Developing a cybersecurity plan
As required by the Texas Legislature for this school year, Alamo Heights ISD is in the process of establishing the district’s first comprehensive cybersecurity plan that will serve to protect the district’s infrastructure and confidential data. It will also provide a guide for reviewing current and establishing new policies, as well as for future staffing and bond needs.
What have you had to consider in creating a cybersecurity plan?
As is often true, the legislature did not provide guidance on how to go about creating a cybersecurity plan, so I chose the collaborative approach and reached out to Alice Owen who is the Executive Director of the Texas K12 CTO Council and my mentor in the CoSN Early Career K12 CTO Academy.
Ultimately I ended up in a room with a group of nearly 20 CTOs and Directors from across the state of Texas who were all members of the Texas K12 CTO Council. The group there conceived a template to help us all frame a summary of our plans with three common focal areas: Infrastructure, Training, and Communication.
Our fully developed plans will then have multiple tasks associated with each of those three major areas.
Have there been any specific issues that have been a challenge to navigate?
A lot of school districts in Texas have policies around technology use, but few, if any, have full fledged cybersecurity policies and training implemented. Change in education is usually a slow process. So with a September announcement, and a June deadline for completion of training, it has been a challenge to identify the right partners to assist with training and policy development in such a quick time frame.
The ability for me to partner with some of the best in Texas through the Texas K12 CTO Council and then vet things through our region's Education Service Center has been crucial to keeping us on track toward completion of this.
What advice would you give to other districts in the same position?
Research, find partners, and collaborate. As an early-career Technology Director I found myself in a position where my only options were to lean hard on the experienced veterans around me. Finding the right professional organizations, such as our Texas K12 CTO Council, filled with peers who are digging through the same work you are doing is an absolute necessity. Being able to hear from veteran CTOs who have been doing this for more than 20-30 years empowered me to talk with confidence in my district about the direction we needed to go and it gave me the connections needed to complete this process with success.
Jamie Locklin is Director of Technology in Alamo Heights ISD, and a cohort member of COSN's first-ever Early Career K12 CTO Academy and active participant with the Texas K12 CTO Council.
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