CoSN Issues Resources to Complement K-12 Education Privacy Toolkit

Two free-standing complimentary resources now available.
Washington, D.C.
Monday, June 30, 2014

CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) today unveiled two freestanding resources to accompany its in-depth, step-by-step privacy toolkit. Designed to help school system leaders navigate the complex federal laws and related issues, the complementary resources include:

•    “10 Steps Every District Should Take Today”; and
•    “Security Questions to Ask of an Online Service Provider

Launched in March through CoSN’s Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning initiative, the existing toolkit addresses compliance with laws such as the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and offers smart practices to better protect student privacy and their data. The security questions for online service providers were included in the v.1 toolkit.

“While the nationwide discussion continues about what privacy laws should be in place and what needs to be done to protect student privacy, school system technology leaders need immediate guidance on what steps they need to be taking. With the release of these two resources, CoSN is providing those leaders with specific, concrete steps they can take today toward better privacy,” said Bob Moore, Co-Chair, Privacy Toolkit Committee, Founder, RJM Strategies LLC, and Former Chair, CoSN Board.

The toolkit was developed through the support from Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, which is based at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The toolkit is sponsored by Microsoft Corporation and endorsed by the Association of School Business Officials International, and the “10 Steps” tool was independently supported by Intel. 

“The toolkit provides district technology leaders with critical insight and practices to meet FERPA and COPPA rules in the cloud computing and app environment. However, as comprehensive as the toolkit may be, school leaders often need to access information immediately and with minimal hassle. These standalone resources will help district leaders quickly obtain the information and guidance necessary to ensure student privacy,” said Keith Krueger, CEO of CoSN.    

The “10 Privacy Steps Every School District Should Take” include:

  • Designate a privacy official 
  • Seek legal counsel
  • Know the laws
  • Adopt school community norms and policies
  • Implement workable processes
  • Leverage procurement
  • Provide training
  • Inform parents
  • Make security a priority
  • Review and adjust

Organized as a decision tree, the toolkit released in March also includes key definitions, overviews on the Directory Information Exception and the School Office Exception, and insight on metadata and de-identification. 

In the fall, CoSN will expand the toolkit with additional sections covering the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) – filling out the privacy guide with all four federal privacy laws applied to K-12 education.

To access the new resources or to learn more about CoSN’s privacy efforts, please visit: www.cosn.org/privacy.

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