State Board of Education discusses cybersecurity concerns, substitute teacher shortage – WIBW


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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -The State Education Department is working with Kansas school districts to prevent schools from becoming targets for cyber attacks.

The State Board of Education says a recent audit found many school districts have not implemented IT security controls.

“The audit results and what we presented earlier Tuesday absolutely created an amazing opportunity for us and for school districts to work together,” said Kathi Grossenbacher, KSDE’s Information Technology.

The audit reported that 58% of Kansas school districts don’t require security awareness training, and 63% don’t annually assess IT security risks.

“We have not experienced any sort of ransom attack or anything like that at the Department of Education,” said Grossenbacher. She added that teachers follow what they find out along the way, “they are not required to do anything specific related to cyber security, but we are working to help them with that to recognize their needs and address any shortcomings that they have right now.”

The State Education Department is working with school districts to develop recommendations to help K-12 school districts prevent cyber attacks. “Creating a best practice template with those security standards, creating a website that entails having not only security best practices on it but also digital literacy,” said Grossenbacher.

The State Board of Education mentioned that their forming a K-12 district IT staff collaborative advisory council. “We’re going to come together as a group and determine what it is that our school districts need in terms of professional development, technical assistance, so we will be working with them very closely to ensure that we are strengthening the security posture,” said Grossenbacher.

Board members also addressed the need for substitute teachers.

“I think the problem is that there are just so many people with the disease or out on quarantine that we can’t keep the school staff,” said Ann Mah, District 4 State Board of Education Member. “I think one of the things I hear from substitutes is they need to make better pay. There are so many jobs right now where you can make as much as a substitute teacher, but you have to weigh the safety and the things that you’re going to encounter.”

Superintendents are requesting an emergency declaration for substitute teacher licensure, making changes including how long someone is allowed to fill in.

97% of schools say they do not have enough substitutes, as due to covid-19 keeps more regular staff away.

“We’ve got a temporary solution that will just be in for a few months to help give these schools some relief so kids can stay in school safely,” said Mah.

Applicants would need to be 18 years old, with a high school diploma, and pass a background check.

The emergency declaration would only run from January 13th through June 1st.

The board of education votes Wednesday on recommendations for substitute teacher licenses.

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