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Student Data Privacy: Is non-compliance worth the risk?

Student Data Privacy Awareness is Growing

As recently discussed at the 2019 ISTE Conference in Phila, Kim Nesmith, Louisiana Department of Education ed tech, pointed out that there have been rapid changes in technology nationwide, leading to different tools and solutions available to protect student data. At the same time, she said, hundreds of school safety bills and guidelines across safety commissions, boards, and state legislatures are being circulated, some of which push for increased student surveillance.

What Could Happen if You Don’t Comply?

What exactly are the consequences if you aren’t so diligent?  In Louisiana, there is a hefty financial penalty or prison time for anyone that collects personal student data and personally identifiable information (“PII”) since a student data privacy law passed there a few years ago. That makes things very challenging.  The upside is it creates an awareness of protecting students’ privacy and how important it really is but then the downside is facing an uphill climb when trying to manage information.  In this state, if you download an app or create an online account providing PII on a site, you are open to consequences.  Currently, Louisiana is the only state that has such harsh restriction

Keep it Simple and Safe

Clearly, there has to be a safe, simple and reliable way to keep privacy at the forefront while avoiding scaring your district personnel.    Drawing attention to the importance of student data privacy isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Here are your options to ensure you’re taking the right steps to protect student confidentiality and be more FERPA-compliant:

  • Monitor your apps and software:  Ensure all are updated.  This decreases risk and vulnerability.  This also applies to handheld devices.
  • Encrypt sensitive data – Utilize encryption technology -only authorized users to receive access to sensitive student information.  A 2-Factor Authentication solution is a strong strategy.
  • Educate all users:   Instruct your personnel to remain cautious when providing personal information.

This topic is not going to go away and being diligent and prepared will ensure your districts’ students are safe from privacy breaches.

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