Back to School: how schools make sure your child's personal info doesn't get stolen

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- Nowadays, schools are dependent on technology and the Stevens Point Area Public School District is no stranger to that.

"We actually use computers for just about everything we do. That's how we transport students, how we schedule buses, that's how we do grades, that's how we do enrollment of students, that's also how we manage a lot of the learning students do now," said Director of Technology, Brian Casey. He went on to say, "If you compared our school district to a lot of businesses, we would be one of the largest businesses in the region."

That means protecting the district and all of its information, including that of students, is a top priority. "What we do in our district is a lot of technical things that are sort of behind the scenes with our systems. We also do security audits, we have our own internal procedures that help protect that data. So, we're doing the best that we can to help ensure that no one is able to come in and hack into our systems," Casey said.

Casey says the biggest concerns are what he calls the 'end users' or the people using technology within the district. "So you could have all of the technical systems in place to help prevent a cyber attack from outside, but if cyber criminals are able to reach your employees, your staff, your students through email and a phishing attack then it's all for not."

Phishing attacks involve scammers trying to get personal information. To prevent them from happening, the district spends a lot of time educating faculty, staff and even the students about what to look out for. "For the students, they're locked down a lot more than faculty which helps a lot. But then again, students are also the ones that may not be thinking about what they're doing," he said.

Because after all, an attack could leave your child's information in the wrong hands. He said, "If they have a complete set of student records they can go out, they can file for credit for loans, they can commit tax fraud, that's happened in other districts." That's why nothing is more important to Casey, and the district, than keeping it safe. "We realize the importance of that and that we have the trust of the community and parents. That they're entrusting us to make sure that it's safe."

While he knows he can't guarantee that no one will ever try to steal that information, "One thing I can promise parents is that we've done everything possible, everything within our means that we know how to do, we've done. We also have a plan to deal with it the minute it becomes apparent that it's happened," said Casey.

Here's a look at the technology students within the district have access to. Students in grades nine through 12 have their own laptop as part of a one to one laptop program. They're also able to take them home. However, the rest of the students have access to devices during the school day. Those devices include computers, Chromebooks and sometimes tablets.

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