BCSS lauded for student data security procedures

Published 5:59 pm Friday, August 19, 2016

Butler County Schools recently received a trusted learning environment seal from the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) out of Washington, D.C., for data governance over student data privacy and security.

Out of 90 nationwide applicants, BCSS and six other school systems were chosen; BCSS was the only Alabama system chosen.

Data Manager Cindy Wilson, along with the BCSS technical department, submitted the policies, procedures and the application for the seal and were notified on Monday that they were a recipient.

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“Basically what it’s saying is that we are taking the steps we need to take to keep our students’ data private and secure, that our people are being trained, we know the risk of exposing data and we know the law about the data,” Wilson said.

This seal is a collaboration of the CoSN, the American Superintendents Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and Association of School Business Officials (ASBO).

“Our school board and educators took the issue of student data security seriously. The board created a policy to support data privacy and security,” Superintendent of Butler County Schools Amy Bryan said.

“Educators were trained in data governance. We’ve all started thinking twice before we email data that may be protected. This designation just affirms that we are one of the early districts to safeguard our students in this way.”

Data governance procedures include five areas of practice: leadership, business, data security, classroom and professional development.

“There were different expectations you had to meet in each one of those areas. So, we had to tell what we were doing, send documentation that we were doing it and how we were doing it,” Wilson said.

“Of all the schools that received it, we were definitely the smallest.”

Wilson said the information and data of employees is also protected along with student information. According to Wilson, there are three classes data can be filed into. The first level consists of lower level information such as a person’s name, etc. The second and third levels consist of more pertinent information such as social security numbers, grades, attendance and more.

“I know how hard we worked last year, and we just happen to live in a day and age that we have to do this, because children’s identities are the easiest to steal,” Wilson said.

“I’m proud that our people system wide took this seriously. We went with it, and we didn’t just brush it off as not being important, and it shows. We are protecting our children as best as we can. We’re still learning and growing, but what it means is that we are taking the right steps.”