Episode 3: The Role of K-12 IT In Complying With Laws & Regulations

In the third episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast, we’re joined by another ManagedMethods customer – Russell Lindenschmidt, the director of technology at Burlington School District in Colorado. During the conversation, we discuss how important the K-12 IT department’s role is in ensuring a district remains compliant with laws and regulations at the local, state, and federal level. Russell also shares more about the “holy trinity” of data privacy laws in K-12 education: FERPA, COPPA, and CIPA.

Data privacy and security in schools has been greatly impacted this year. Students and staff are accessing more school data from the outside the school building via the cloud. The ability for students, teachers, and staff to connect from anywhere has created new vulnerabilities when it comes to privacy that K-12 IT teams need to monitor. Russell was kind enough to come onto the podcast and share his perspective on what IT teams need to be mindful of moving forward.

Learn a bit more about Russell and Burlington School District, and make sure to subscribe down below to listen to all episodes of The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts.

JK: Let’s start with having you share more about yourself, your career so far, how you got to where you are today, and a little background on your district.

RL: I’m the tech director for Burlington School District, we’ve got about 900 students and 100 or so staff. We’re still considered a rural, small district, especially by front range standards. Basically, if it plugs in, then I’m responsible for it.

I’ve been in this position since 2014 and prior to this I worked at Bethune School District, and I was a part-time tech and teacher there for seven years. Going way back, I did general IT and QA work during the dotcom startup days in the late 90s in Chicago.

JK: How has the transition to remote learning been for Burlington since the start of this school year, but also since March?

RL: This year was a lot better than the last go-around. We were able to tune our responses better this go-around. We are a Google Workspace shop, so our integration with Classroom and Meet is dialed-in. We also got a fair amount of Chromebooks, so it makes sense to use the resources we already have.

That said, our middle school was open for four days this year before we had to shut down due to COVID. Then we shut down our elementary and middle schools primarily due to staff infections and our inability to get subs. And now our high school has shut down due to a student outbreak.

The biggest problem we have is keeping kids engaged, honestly. That’s indicative of any sort of remote learning scenario, where you got kids who are high-risk and how do you engage those kids when they don’t show up—physically or mentally—to start with. It’s an ugly situation and we’re doing the best we can, but I think we’re in a much better position having gone through it before.

JK: Is Burlington operating 1:1 for students and staff, or is it more BYOD?

RL: We started the year at BYOD, and “if you need a machine, we can give you one.” We ordered 235 Chromebooks on July 1 [2020] and we got them two weeks ago. It’s actually perfect timing because now that everyone is shut down, we can hand out new devices.

I’m actually – along with all our principals and superintendent – trying to lay out a framework for 1:1 either to start in January or sometime in the spring. Simply because we’re at a critical juncture where I think we can make something happen and keep this rolling in case something else comes up. Once kids and teachers get exposed to the technology, I think it’s a lot easier to adopt once they get back into in-person.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with Russell below and make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you don’t miss an episode!