A Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) website posted a picture of Jolie as one of its school board members! Maybe we can get an autograph if we attend a school board meeting!
Is this a joke? Was the website hacked?
This HCPS website was discovered by a citizen who performed an internet search for a list of current Hillsborough County School Board members and found Jolie gazing back.
Below is just one example (of many) where a search engine query returns a link to the HCPS staging website:
This staging website for HCPS has clearly been indexed with search engines. A staging website is a test environment that is not supposed to be public facing (published live on the internet) and if configured properly will not be indexed by search engines. HCPS has nearly a $3B budget and does not appear to manage its website professionally.
How does the IT department have the time to play what has the appearance of a discourteous prank on a school board member?
The apparent ineptitude (the indexed live staging website) and lack of professionalism (posting a photo of Jolie for Dr. Hahn) is disappointing and it raises an important question. The district IT department is responsible for managing seriously personal data about children, families, and personnel. The school district is enabled by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to make decisions about who they share that personal (and protected) information with – third parties like Edsby, Clever, i-Ready, etc. School districts are enabled to do this without parental consent under FERPA (given certain requirements are met). The question is: are those requirements actually being met by the school district and each third party (how would any parent know), and is it enough to protect the personal student data?
Students and parents are forced to trust that the district knows how to ensure and validate data is properly protected. How do parents trust a school district that reportedly waited a year to tell parents that drinking water was contaminated with lead?
Examples like this website mess are concerning because of the picture it paints about the school district’s attention to detail and professionalism. How well does the school district understand the complex world of information security and best practices for protecting student data (like prohibiting PII re-identification)? The district is responsible for signing agreements with third parties that dictate what student data is shared and how the data is to be protected.
Managing a budget of nearly $3B of other people’s money (taxpayer money) is one thing – it is just money. Managing and protecting (from harm and misuse) a child’s very personal information, that is collected and shared without consent, is an entirely different and complex matter dealing with your identity, safety, and privacy – and that data is something you can likely never delete or hide if it is revealed and propagated.