CoSN Issues K-12 Privacy Toolkit for School Leaders

Resource Enables School Systems to Better Ensure Privacy of Data in Digital Era
Washington, DC
Friday, March 21, 2014

Washington, DC (March 21, 2014) – Today at the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) 2014 Annual Conference in Washington, DC, CoSN released an in-depth, step-by-step privacy guide to help school system leaders navigate the complex federal laws and related issues. Issued as part of CoSN’s new Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning initiative, the Toolkit addresses compliance with laws such as Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and offers smart practices to better protect student privacy and their data.

The Toolkit was created with the help of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, which is based at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. This Toolkit was sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and endorsed by The Association of School Business Officials International.

“Student data privacy is one of the most important and challenging issues facing our industry today. Microsoft is partnering with CoSN to address the challenges head-on and looks forward to continuing our work to drive better vendor and school practices related to privacy,” said Steve Mutkoski, government policy director for Microsoft’s worldwide public sector business. “This Toolkit is an essential first step to answering those questions and setting guidance for schools when contracting with service providers who will handle student data. We are excited about the ongoing effort with CoSN to safeguard students and ensure their data is only used to help children learn.”

“School system leaders need to understand how to comply with FERPA and COPPA given increasing cloud computing and app environments,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN. “And, K-12 leaders must go beyond the minimal legal compliance and enable processes that protect education data. The Toolkit will strengthen the ability to make this shift.”

Organized as a decision tree, the Toolkit includes:

  •       Definitions
  •      Suggested contract terms
  •      Security questions to ask an online service provider
  •       Overviews on the Directory Information Exception and the School Office Exception
  •       Understanding metadata and de-identification

The resource also provides guidance on the increasing use of Click-Wrap Agreements – common to so many popular, free online tools and services – and a set of helpful Internet links to privacy-related resources. Additional resources will be added to the Toolkit throughout the year to ensure its relevancy and value to school technology leaders.

“When FERPA and COPPA were enacted, no one could have imagined technologies such as cloud services and mobile computing, let alone how they would impact K-12 education. The CoSN Privacy Toolkit will allow school system technology leaders to push innovation, while protecting the privacy of students,” said Bob Moore, Co-Chair, Privacy Toolkit Committee, Founder, RJM Strategies LLC, and Former Chair, CoSN Board.

To access the Toolkit and to learn more, please visit: www.cosn.org/privacy.

About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit www.cosn.org or call 866-267-08747 to find out more about CoSN’s focus areas, annual conference and events, advocacy and policy, membership and the CETL certification exam.

Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, which is based at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, engages Harvard Law students in a wide range of real-world litigation, licensing, client counseling, advocacy, and legislative projects and cases, covering a broad spectrum of Internet, new technology, and intellectual property legal issues. Clients include individuals, small startups, nonprofit organizations, internal Berkman Center projects, groups of law professors, and government entities.

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