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Creating a Culture of Student Data Privacy Takes Time

Not long after hiring a new Executive Director of Educational Services, Rocky River School District in Ohio recognized the need to create a system-wide culture focused on protecting student data privacy. Although the school board had recently reconfirmed its Student Privacy Policy, implementation was inconsistent. Collaborative stakeholder conversations identified the need to clearly define and educate staff about the difference between personally identifiable information (PII), confidential information, internal information, and directory information. After consultations with teacher leaders identified the need for increased training opportunities and an easier way for teachers to request digital tools, the district simplified the request process for teachers, developed an easily accessible list of pre-approved digital applications, and created a teacher-focused self-help guide. 

The district found that pushback often resulted from a lack of understanding or awareness, so they provided staff with a variety of ongoing training opportunities, including in-depth professional learning sessions, faculty meeting pop-ups, monthly bulletins, explanatory videos, and privacy-protecting tips and tricks recommended by other teachers and staff. The district also built an internal website with student data privacy information and resources and designated teacher-leaders as the initial point person for staff questions. Utilizing multiple communication channels helped get the word out. In addition, the district attorney attended staff meetings to explain the importance of data governance and tied it to their state-required Teacher Code of Ethics training. 

The district also updated its textbook adoption procedures to include vetting for data governance requirements. Finally, the district applied for and earned the CoSN Trusted Learning Environment seal, an accomplishment indicating that they have taken strong, measurable steps to protect student data.