Data Security and Approved Applications
Tacoma Public Schools is committed to protecting both students and their data when using digital resources.
Student Internet Filtering
The purpose of an internet filter is to prevent access to:
- Visual depictions that are obscene, pornographic, or harmful to minors.
- Sites that promote violence and hate, gambling, illegal drugs, and weapons.
- Sites that contain malware, spyware or associated with phishing and fraud.
As part of Tacoma School District software license agreement with Microsoft, the district provides Microsoft Office 365 to all students, including an email address. For their safety students are blocked from receiving and sending emails outside the district. There are a few exceptions to this block that allow interactions with applications that provide educational resources to the district.
Access to YouTube
A common question is whether students have access to YouTube. The answer is yes, with certain restrictions. The district utilizes YouTube’s Restricted Mode to block potentially objectionable content.
How does YouTube do this? They utilize community flagging and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content. To learn more about YouTube’s Restricted mode, visit their restricted mode information page.
Anti-Virus and Ransomware Protection
To protect students from viruses, ransomware, and malware, we install anti-malware software on every district computer.
- This protects student computers both at school and home.
- The purpose of the software is to block web and application exploits, potentially unwanted apps and malicious code from accessing student computers.
Student Data Privacy and Security
Tacoma Public Schools takes student data privacy seriously. Online products used with students go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure data security and privacy. Student computers are intended for educational purposes only, and therefore unapproved products and internet sites that pose security risks, or products that do not meet educational alignment to state, and district adopted standards may be block for students.
Digital products are reviewed by the district Compliance Committee. If the committee agrees that the product is safe and educationally aligned, the publisher is contacted to sign a district Data Sharing Agreement. If the publisher is willing to work with the district, we then approved the product. See Approved product list for more information.
Federal and State Laws
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, (FERPA), was passed in its initial form in 1974. It focuses on the protection of student education records, and grants access rights to parents up until the student reaches the age of 18, at which point the rights transfer to the student.
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) provides parental rights to limit the personal information that schools may collect from students. Parents have the ability to opt their student out of surveys that include personal information. Such as political affiliation, mental health, religion, and more
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, (COPPA), focuses on the protection of data for young children by requiring operators of online services, websites, games, or mobile applications to obtain permission from parents before collecting personal information online from children under 13. It applies to schools when they are acting as “agents” of parents by contracting with online services or websites for educational purposes. The Federal Trade Commission, which oversees COPPA, outlines best practices for schools to follow when contracting with a third-party website or online services provider, but does not mandate compliance.
The Student User Privacy in Education Rights Act (SUPER) Requires service providers to provide clear privacy policies and notice of any policy changes. Require service providers to have a security plan. Prohibits service providers from selling student information or from using it for targeted advertising, creating a profile, or any purpose not agreed to without consent.