Online Instructional Tools and Student Privacy
Many 21st Century learning tools are apps, websites and electronic database applications that store information. Students who attend classes in the Pleasanton Unified School District will be asked to use these websites and apps in the classroom and while completing homework. Many of these tools are key parts of our educational program. They provide opportunities for our students to think critically, communicate and collaborate with other students and their teachers, create content, and otherwise dive deeper into the materials and activities outlined in the Common Core State Standards. Some of these online systems store private and confidential student information.
The Pleasanton USD has a duty to protect the privacy of our students and families when using electronic tools and resources. We take this responsibility seriously and have taken steps to secure the personally identifiable information (PII) both inside and outside our physical network.
We have implemented a variety of safeguards to ensure that student personally identifiable information (PII) is secured when it resides in our network systems. We take the approach that the information must be secured while it is stored in our servers, transits our network, and by limiting access to the information to staff who have a “need to know” in order to provide educational resources to our students.
- We utilize 128-bit SSL technologies for connections to our internal servers, including the Q Student and Parent Portals.
- The edge of our network is secured using state of the art firewall technology.
- Our Governing Board has implemented a districtwide policy that governs access to electronic systems.
We also ensure that all external online service providers with whom we have a contract for services have implemented security protocols for the servers that house our students’ PII. This is required for all contracts that have been implemented since July 1, 2015, per California Education Code 49073.1 (AB1584). These contracts can be viewed on the California Student Data Privacy Alliance website (this site is updated frequently).
- We require contract language that specifies that our providers have implemented the same type of specific safeguards that we have implemented with our internal systems to verify that no unauthorized third party will access our students’ PII while the data resides in their systems.
- We require contract language that states that these providers comply with FERPA and COPPA rules.
Under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), these third party service providers must provide parental notification and obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. The law permits school districts such as ours to consent to the collection of personal information on behalf of all of its students, thereby eliminating the need for individual parental consent given directly to the web site operator.
COPPA also provides parents or guardians the right to opt their students aged 13 and younger out of online services. The Federal Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA) and COPPA provide parents or guardians the right to inspect their student’s records, including the PII that is contained in these electronic systems. If you are a parent or guardian of a student in the district, and you have concerns about your student’s use of online electronic systems that store PII, we encourage you to speak with your school’s principal or teachers to find out why we use the system and to inspect your student’s stored work and information.
If you have concerns, you may opt your child out of the use of the applications by submitting the form in the Student & Family Handbook. If you choose to opt your student out of the use of some or all electronic tools, your student will be asked to complete an alternative assignment that will differ from the work assigned to the rest of the students. Because we believe these tools are essential to a 21st Century learning experience, we encourage you to speak with your principal or teachers before you elect to opt your student out of these tools.
As a key part of the distance learning activities that have resulted from the Covid-19 school dismissal, the Pleasanton Unified School District has adopted the use of the Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet platforms for real-time synchronous video conferencing. These tools allow our staff and students to interact with each other on a regular basis, which lessens the impact of the Shelter in Place orders that have been enacted in the Bay Area. Although video conferencing isn’t quite the same as learning together in our schools, it can provide opportunities for students and teachers to see and speak to each other in familiar class groups. Teachers can present lesson materials, can check for student understanding and can respond in real time to student needs.
Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet each offer different features and capabilities. Our teachers have the choice of platform for their use, which allows for creativity and personalization of the experience for our students - just like in our real world classrooms.
As one educator stated, “One thing that I find most helpful about Zoom in an instructional setting is that students can raise their hands if they want to speak. As well, the chat feature is also useful for engagement.”
Also just like our real world classrooms, there are instructional best practices and standards of behavior that are expected from all students who participate in videoconferencing as a part of their regular school activities. These standards provide supports that ensure that our virtual classrooms are safe places that are conducive to learning, exploration and personal expression.
- Staff Best Practices
- Student Norms and Expectations (updated December 2020)
- Device and Environment Best Practices
The District has implemented a variety of security safeguards and data privacy protections that ensure that the information shared with Google and Zoom will remain confidential. These protections are required by a variety of state and federal laws, and secure student and family information that we are entrusted to safeguard. Families may opt students out of the use of video conferencing solutions at any time. Documents that relate to these protections are linked below.