The Alpine School District Board of Education saw a draft of the policy during its meeting Tuesday afternoon. Discussion on the policy will continue at its June meeting, and the policy will be approved by July 1.
The policy is in response to state legislation requiring the district to have such a policy by that date.
Kimberly Bird, assistant to the district’s superintendent, told the board the proposed policy has been reviewed by the district attorney and has been seen by the state.
“We really do feel comfortable and confident about the policy,” Bird said.
It’s a one-page policy that states data privacy is important to the district and that students and their parents or guardian retain ownership of student data. It states the district will have a data governance plan, which will include details on how the district collects, uses, stores, shares and deletes student data.
Schools use third-party technological applications in classrooms that can ask for personal information from students, like requiring an email and a name. Students are given district-generated emails that include their names to use for educational applications, like Google products.
“I think it is important to remember that being online is part of the educational process in Alpine School District,” Board President JoDee Sundberg said. “That is just a part of who we are. So being able to put this together, to provide as much safety as possible and to help our parents understand what is being done to make sure there is data privacy is what we are trying to do.”
Blaine Edman, the district’s director of technology, said the district kept in mind the need to protect student information, be transparent in student information practices and provide policies that are reasonable in schools when drafting the policy.
Edman also said the district is stressing to teachers that if student information isn’t needed, teachers shouldn’t share it with an educational application. He said teachers often reach out to him to ask questions on the topic.
“Teachers want to be able to follow these policies,” Edman said. “They just need to know how to understand them.”
The plan is to train principals on the policy this summer and have it ready so teachers can create disclosures to go out to parents.
Two people spoke during public comment Tuesday about concerns they had regarding students’ data and what happens to it.
Board Member Wendy Hart said she’d like an option where parents can opt out of having certain information disclosed, like having information shared about them online, and where students could still have directory information shared for things like being included in the yearbook and having their name listed in a graduation program.
She referred to the proposed policy as “a drop in the pond.”
“I do appreciate what we are doing here, and I wish we’d done it five years ago,” she said.