Data Privacy and Security: A Continuing Challenge

Data Privacy and Security: A Continuing Challenge
(Image credit: THINKSTOCK/BARAMEE2554)

At the June Leadership Summit in Chicago, Tech & Learning Leader advisors tackled the continuing challenges of keeping district networks safe and student data private. Hacked school networks held hostage for ransom demands have become far too common, although not widely discussed. Dealing with a hacked system and the public fall out is not something districts want to publicize.

We asked our advisors what some of their current challenges/concerns are in the area of data privacy and security.

Eric Callis, director of technology at La Grange (IL) Highlands School District 106—Two of our biggest challenges are making sure that all our district stakeholders know what their role is in keeping students’ data adequately protected. We have also created processes to ensure that our district partners are compliant with the law.

Dane Conrad, director of technology, Hattiesburg (MS) Public School District—We still deal with a laxness in sending both employee and student personal information in email or storing it in personal cloud storage, so that is a continuing challenge. We have implemented vendor data sharing agreements, and we use SchoolScan ( to monitor our internal and external servers and network equipment each night.

Tom Ingram, director of information technology, Escambia County (FL) School District—Our district has adopted a standard student data privacy addendum to use when we enter into contracts. We review all purchases to ensure they meet technical, curricular, and contractual requirements. Individual teacher and free products are our greatest challenge, and we are working to inform staff of the requirements around using these.

Cory Boggs, executive director, information technology, Putnam City (OK) Schools—Now, we only work with vendors that are willing to agree to our privacy policies, and we make sure all our vendors sign the privacy policy forms.

Christine Weiser is the Content and Brand Director for Tech & Learning, and has been with the company since 2008. She has reported on education for most of her career, working at Scholastic and Gale Publishing before joining Tech & Learning. Christine is also an author and musician, and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son.