In Matters of Privacy

Student Data Privacy

A new law that impacts schools and technology providers

… and your children …

As technology evolves, some people are taking extra precautions with the security of their information. What is your school district doing? There is a new law every parent should have been made aware of prior to the start of school. Chromebooks have been distributed to children, and yet there has been no notice made to parents by the district about this new law. It’s implications may not be so beneficial to us in the long run.

Over the years, the school district has allocated district funding for the purchase of laptops. Kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders receive a school-issued iPad, while 3rd -12th graders receive a Chromebook on a one-to-one basis. It is actually not an option. It is a requirement. School issued chrome books are used both on and off campus by 100% of the student body. (Disclosure: I believe this applies to the youngest learners, but on this I may be mistaken.)

View on SoWashCo Technology Page HERE.

During distance learning, this school issued device became every child’s classroom connection. The timing was actually quite impressive considering the consequences of NOT having them during a global pandemic. Had the infrastructure not been in place to teach children at home, can you imagine the implications? Distance learning might not have even been possible.

SoWashCo School Board Meeting – July 14th 2022

Student Privacy and Cyber Security Update

Superintendent, Julie Nielsen

“In May of this year, legislation was passed that impacts schools and technology providers by requiring them to meet specific expectations regarding educational data and other matters. This includes …

  • provisions that must appear in contracts,
  • limitations and notice requirements before accessing or monitoring a school-issued device, and
  • noticed to parents and students regarding any contract that we share our students educational data with.”

Student Data Privacy Law

House Bill HF 2353

Approved May 22, 2022 by Governor Walz and Secretary of State, Steve Simon.

at the Minnesota Legislature, Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

Bob Berkowitz, Director of Information and Technology

“This House Bill 2353 is primarily to add to student data privacy that already exists, and the burden for most of this law is actually on the third party providers themselves. However, this is to further protect student data as it relates to third party systems. Third party systems are those programs that we contract with for curriculum or for assessments, so an example of that would be Schoology.”

“There’s a lot of information that we need to gather to make this information available for our families and, as we prepare for the new year, the technology department, teaching and learning, and our assessment team are building a website that has all of this information on it for our families to make it very easy for our families to access this information. As we begin the school year, in our family news at the beginning of the school year, we will send out information about this new law and about how to obtain information.”

“It is proactive, so we’re not required to do that as a district, but we’ve chosen to be proactive to make the information extremely easy to access. Most school districts in Minnesota will likely do the same thing, as we’re working together.”

Bob shared this information July 14th, but the school year began this week. Students are now using technology under a new student data privacy law which parents have not been made aware of. Director of Communications, Pepe Barton, tells me the Technology Department is working to gather the required information, and it will be available online within 30 days of the start of the school year. He says this is legal under the notification section of the law.

SoWashCo’s Technology Department

This screenshot and the current description of SoWashCo’s use of Technology can be found under HOME > SERVICES > TECHNOLOGY at HERE.

SoWashCo’s Technology page (link above) gives a very thorough description to all manner of equipment (Chromebook and iPad), interactive assignment platforms (Seesaw and Schoology), device protection plans, FAQ, fee processing, tech support, and department descriptions.

Despite the Technology Page invitation to “Contact” Mr. Berkowitz though, they give no email or phone number by which to contact him. I searched for his name in “Contact Us,” and no results were found. I searched for his title in “Contact Us,” and BINGO! His information popped up. A person would have to know his title though in order to find Bob Berkowitz.

Bob Berkowitz

“The last component that I’d like to share is a provision in the law that allows the school to access a district issued student device off campus in the event of a concern for imminent threat or safety of a student. And so this is an area that, per law, if we have to use a tool to access a device, when off campus, it has to be part of a situation that is eminent danger to a student. And by law we are required within 72 hours to notify the family and the student. And in that notification we’re required to identify the type of control we used, the information, and what the situation was. So we are working on the draft language in the case that we would need to do that.”

Sharon Van Leer

“How would you know to access, if someone has information on their laptop, that there was some kind of … ?”

Bob Berkowitz

“It would have to be an active investigation with information that there is likely a life-threatening situation, and so that that may be from law enforcement. It may be from somewhere else. But it would not be a routine investigation. It wouldn’t be like bullying. That’s not a situation that would be necessarily life-threatening, unless it had raised to that level and we were instructed to do so.”

Sharon Van Leer

“Can you talk about, what are some of the controls that we would do in those situations?”

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Bob Berkowitz

“… If say a student didn’t arrive home, we could do things like turn on location services to see where that device last was. Location services is a data control that we are not allowed to use under this law outside of our school buildings, so outside of the school day. So that’s a great example of something that we may attempt to do if law enforcement, or someone else, asks us because of a concern for immediate danger.”

“Another one, it might be a situation of self-harm. We don’t have the ability to capture any information at home on a chrome book, but we could turn that on. That is a control that I’m aware of that we wouldn’t use off-campus. It’s a classroom management tool, but in a situation of some investigation around self-harm, that’s an example that we may want to use. But we would have to actively turn it on and then, within 72 hours, send the family in writing what we did, why we did it, and what controls were turned on.”

It sounds to me like the state is making laws that could potentially undermine parental rights. 72 hours is a long time for the district to notify parents their child’s life could be in danger. If this law is legitimately a life saving tool, then why is the knowledge of harm being withheld from the parent for so long? And why is a school district personnel or a government worker (both of whom are strangers to the family) allowed to track my child’s location and listen in on their conversation without parental notice or consent?

Maybe the intention behind this provision is good, but it’s direction could potentially undermine parental rights and cause more harm than good. You can bet that WHAT CAN BE ABUSED, WILL BE ABUSED.

https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxGMD9sCpxzjkJj4_9fvstCrKT40ExgM6V

Word for Word Transcript

taken YouTube video

SHARON VAN LEAR

20:34 next is 6.3 student data and cyber security update presented this evening by julie nielsen

JULIE NIELSEN

thank you again chair van lear

20:45 in may of this year legislation was passed that impacts schools and technology providers by requiring them to meet specific expectations regarding educational data and other matters this includes provisions that must appear in contracts limitations and notice requirements before accessing or monitoring a school-issued device and noticed appearance (typo: “to parents”) and students regarding any contract that we share our students educational data with this evening the department of technology excuse me the department of technology has been working hard to ensure compliance with this new legislation and this evening we have our director of technology bob berkowitz or as i call him bobby b in the hallways to tell us more about what this means for our students and families as we get ready to come back to school

BOB BERKOWITZ

21:30 thank you good evening board chair van lier members of the school board superintendent nielsen and members of our community um the department of teaching and learning and the department of technology would like to share some information with you today about a student data privacy law that was passed at the end of may and signed by the governor on may 22nd this law does not have a number yet so we’re calling it hf 2353 is how it worked through the house there’s a couple of things that are important with this law

22:00 this this (typo) house bill 2353 is primarily to to (typo) add to student data privacy that already exists and the burden for most of this law is actually on the third party providers themselves however this is again this is to further protect student data as it relates to third party systems third party systems are those programs that we contract with for curriculum or for assessments so an example of that would be schoology we use schoology as our student information or our learning management system we provide information to a third party provider for that system so the law will will have additional different additional controls for schoology but also us as a district there are things that we have to do to comply with this law so

22:55 one of the things that i want to talk about is what is required for us we are required upon request to to share with families the data elements that we share with a third party so things like student name students email address grade school also terms of service or user agreement so all of the third party providers that we work with there is a user agreement and so we need to make that available for any family who would like to see it and then also the privacy policy that the third party has as a company and so the technology team has been working with teaching and learning and other minnesota districts to build a database that holds this information this has truly been a state effort

23:43 we’ve been aware of this bill working its way through there’s a lot of information that we need to gather to make this information available for our families and as we prepare for the new year the technology department teaching and learning and our assessment team are building a website that has all of this information on it for our families to make it very easy for our families to access this information as we begin the school year in our our family news at the beginning beginning of the school year we will send out information about this new law and about how to obtain information it is proactive so we’re not required to do that as a district but we’ve chosen to be proactive to make the information extremely easy to access most school districts in minnesota will likely do the same thing as we’re working together

24:35 another tenant of the legislation that i’d like to highlight is is really the controls that we use as we manage devices so there are things that we cannot do with devices in this law when devices are off campus and so um our team is looking at all the tools we do have we have no concerns about the controls that we may have to turn off or not use but that’s something that we are looking at actively with things like classroom management software

25:08 the last component that i’d like to share is a provision in the law that allows the school to access a district issued student device off campus in the event of a concern for imminent threat or safety of a student and so this is an area that per law if we have to use a tool to access a device when off campus it has to be part of a situation that is is eminent danger to a student and by law we are required within 72 hours to notify the family and the student and in that notification we’re required to to identify the type of control we used the information and what the situation was so we are working on the draft language in the case that we would need to do that any questions

SHARON VAN LEAR

yeah how would you know no to access if someone um has information on their on their laptop topic it’s laptops that they have right so how would you know that there was some kind of

BOB BERKOWITZ

yeah it would have to be an active investigation with information that

26:15 there is likely a life-threatening situation and so that that may be from law enforcement it may be from somewhere else but it would not be a routine investigation it wouldn’t be like bullying that that’s not a situation that would be necessarily life-threatening unless it had raised to that level and we were instructed to do so

SHARON VAN LEER

26:33 can you talk about what are some of the controls that you yeah that we that things that we would do in those situations

BOB BERKOWITZ

yep in those unlikely situations if you think about

26:45 the ipads that we have uh if a say a student didn’t arrive home we could do things like turn on location services to see where that device last was location services is a data control that we are not allowed to use under this law outside of our school buildings so outside of the school day so that’s a great example of something that we may attempt to do if law enforcement or someone else asks us because of a concern for immediate danger

another one it might be a situation of self-harm

27:17 we don’t have the ability to capture any information at home on a chromebook but we could turn that on that is a control that i’m aware of that we wouldn’t use off-campus it’s a classroom management tool but in a situation of of some some investigation around self-harm that’s an example that we may want to use um but we would have to actively turn it on and then within 72 hours send the family in writing what we did why we did it and what controls were turned on any other questions

SHARON VAN LEER

27:58 thanks bob thank you

by JAiME for SCHOOLS on September 8th, 2022

LIST OF REFERENCES

SoWashCo Technology page: info https://www.sowashco.org/services/technology#parentportal

Minnesota Legislature: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF2353&version=1&session=ls92&session_year=2022&session_number=0&type=ue

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