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Authors

Steve Mutkoski

Abstract

Rapid change in the technology landscape has resulted in the introduction of a range of new technologies into the classroom. But unlike the past use of technology in schools, many of these new products and services introduce two new dynamics that school counsel (and the teachers and administrators they support) need to understand fully. First, many of these new products and services are run “in the cloud” by a third party service provider as opposed to on servers operated by the school’s information technology (IT) staff. This third party operation and control can raise important new regulatory compliance issues, including data protection and data privacy issues, as the school and student data will be handled by a third party. Second, increasingly these products and services are available without monetary payment for teachers to deploy directly in their classrooms. This means that the products or services often will not go through a more formal procurement process where regulatory compliance and other similar issues would be evaluated.

These new cloud products and services are being widely adopted by schools across the country because they lower school costs, increase productivity, and maximize innovation and efficiency. With a renewed partnership between a school’s counsel, teachers, school administrators, and school IT staff, those benefits can be reaped without sidestepping important regulatory obligations, such as student privacy. This Article claims to assist these stakeholders in building a better partnership by:

• Explaining the concept of cloud computing and how it is being used in schools;

• Highlighting the regulatory issues raised by new technologies (with a focus on data protection and data privacy issues);

• Offering guidance to school districts who wish to create policies that include mechanisms for legal review prior to deployment of such technologies;

• Providing insight to counsel who are faced with these issues, including a review of applicable law (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in particular) and guidance for negotiating cloud services agreements; and

• Highlighting several emerging developments in both the regula-tory and legislative landscape that school decision makers will need to watch for as they chart a course forward.

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