Podcast | What’s Missing in K-12 Risk Management?

September 29, 2021


Episode 20: What’s Missing in K-12 Risk Management?

Cloud technology in school districts has increased in use by students, especially after being home for remote learning most of the past school year. The increase in cloud activity has exposed some missing pieces in K-12 risk management practices needing to be filled in.

This raises some questions often asked by K-12 IT leaders. Where should IT teams start when improving risk management in their district? How do district IT teams get buy-in from the administration as a whole?

The current school year is well underway and districts are getting a taste of what classroom learning in the future looks like. It’s clear risk management practices need to be updated because school districts continue to frequently experience cyber incidents due to poor K-12 cybersecurity posture.

In this week’s episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast, we are joined by Dr. Travis Paakki, Senior Director of Technology at Portland Public Schools. Travis has conducted research focusing on what exactly is missing and offers up solutions to help improve risk management practices across K-12.

Continue reading to learn more about Travis and get a preview of the conversation (edited for clarity). If you would like to listen to the rest of the conversation, simply click on the podcast episode on this page. Subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts to always stay up to date with the latest episode!

JK: Let’s kick things off by having you share more about yourself and your career, and an overview of Portland Public Schools for our listeners.

TP: I got started in IT back in 1994 and I was hooked ever since. I got a chance to work on some older mainframes at an oil company doing some night shift computer operations and that was it. I was hooked. I’ve had the chance to work for some really big corporations, but I’ve been in education roles for the past 12 years. My passion has always been infosec and leadership, and all the roles I’ve had have really reflected that.

Portland Public Schools is approximately 50,000 students. We have 83 schools spread across the Portland area. One of the unique challenges is we are an older district and have had some deferred maintenance and construction. The average age of our buildings is 83 years old. It presents a unique and interesting challenge we’ve been facing.

JK: With the 2021 school year quickly approaching, looking back, how was the past year navigating through some uncertainty? Was Portland mostly in a remote learning environment? Was there some hybrid learning taking place? What was the past year like?

TP: We left for spring break in 2020 and we didn’t return during the 2019-20 school year at all. For the 2020-21 school year we came back hybrid in the last quarter. And for the 2021-22 school year we’re going to be back fully in person with a new online option for those that may not be able to attend or may have high-risk factors in their household.

We did all of this without previously having a 1:1 program in place. During that spring break, we scrambled into all the schools and broke down all the Chromebook carts we had. And we were trying left and right to scramble to get Chromebooks from anyone that had them, to anyone that needed them.

What that meant is we were relying on a lot of personally owned devices until we could get equipment into the hands of our students. We really had to cut a lot of corners and do uncomfortable things to make sure student learning experiences were not interrupted.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with Travis below and check out previous episodes on the ManagedMethods podcast page. Make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!