Meet Rod Russeau, CoSN Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE), and Director of Technology & Information Services at Trusted Learning Environment Seal Recipient Community High School District 99. Rod sat down with us to share his perspective on the TLE Seal program.

  1. Why did you decide to apply for the TLE Seal?

Data privacy and information security are critically important in our world today, especially in the data-rich school district environment. We must protect the digital identities of our students. The five practice areas within the Trusted Learning Environment speak directly to the elements a school district needs to have in place in order to effectively provide information security and data privacy. Having spent the last five years focusing intently on improving the district’s information security posture, the TLE was the ideal next step to deeply assess how we were doing, improve where needed, and publicly celebrate our successes. Most importantly, it provided a solid opportunity to involve other district and building-level leadership and staff in these important conversations.

  1. When it comes to developing and improving your student data privacy program, what do you find most challenging?

Information security and data privacy are everyone’s responsibility, yet they are traditionally seen as the sole responsibility of the technology department. Working to bring significant awareness to all levels of leadership and staff is one of the most challenging aspects of developing a data privacy and information security program. Ultimately, security and privacy are more of a human problem than a technical one. In addition, in today’s internet-based world, software applications are plentiful and freely available online, making it difficult to control when, where, and how data is being accessed or shared. This again is where awareness and involvement by all levels of leadership and staff are critical.

  1. What did you learn by going through the TLE application process?

The TLE application process is arduous and humbling. There is quite a distinction between knowing you have a particular practice in place and being able to prove it through documented artifacts. Digging this deeply and engaging others is an eye-opening experience, both good and bad. Engaging the leadership team to understand the requirements is eye-opening for them also. Even if the seal is not earned, going through the process with the leadership to understand the practice areas is invaluable. Anything that sparks conversation and promotes understanding is a valuable learning experience.

  1. How do you refresh your student data privacy program each year? What steps do you take to ensure that the program is constantly improving?

Our privacy and security program is not something that we refresh each year, rather it is always evolving and an ongoing effort. Active participation in CoSN and IETL (our state CoSN chapter) is essential in staying abreast of new developments and changing best practices in this space. Proactively discussing privacy and security issues at all leadership levels is important to maintain focus and awareness at the highest level. It’s too easy for people to settle back into thinking information security and data privacy is a ‘tech thing.’

  1. What advice do you have for future TLE Seal applicants?cosn tlelogo

Do it, you will be glad you did! Consider this a considerable and never-ending journey. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of what must be done. Take small steps and begin by assessing what you already have in place. Focus on an area that requires work, enlist the help of others, and take one step forward. Then move on to the next area. Take advantage of all CoSN’s resources including national or state-level cohorts of districts all working toward earning the TLE seal. These connections can provide you with the emotional support needed to get through the process, and in many cases, materials that can jump-start your internal processes and procedures. Good luck!

About Rod Russeau:

Rod Russeau is a servant leader with a passion for learning, technology, and information security. He has served as Director of Technology & Information Services at Community High School District 99 for 26 years. Rod earned his CoSN Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) designation in 2016.

Rod earned three highly sought-after information security certifications in 2020: The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and the Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE) designations. Rod was also selected in 2020 as the Chairperson for the CoSN Cybersecurity Initiative. The CoSN Cybersecurity Initiative aims to develop usable guidance, tools, and support to assist school districts across North America in developing their cybersecurity programs.

Rod began his technology career in 1977, designing, programming, and supporting student & financial information systems for hundreds of school districts across the country. Rod is an avid musician and photographer. Rod is the proud father of two amazing adult sons.

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