Tech dirctors from four counties gathered at the Dutchess BOCES conference center to hear updates from state officials and discuss the latest informationTechnology leaders from school districts and BOCES across four counties gathered recently to learn about and discuss the latest information on a variety of topics including data privacy, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI) and more at the Dutchess BOCES Conference Center.

The day started with updates from Chief Privacy Officer Louise DeCandia from the New York State Education Department (NYSED). She discussed new tools for school districts, such as Access 4 Learning (A4L), a data privacy consortium that the state is now part of. In addition, districts in the state will become members of The Education Cooperative (TEC), an educational collaborative nonprofit organization cooperating with A4L’s Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) to “assist with administrative and legal support to negotiate privacy terms with Ed Tech vendors,” according to NYSED. “The overall goal is to improve the protection of student data and to have more standard and conformed data protection agreements and a centralized negotiation system,” shared DeCandia.

Marlowe Cochran, NYSED’s chief information security officer, spoke to the group regarding data security reviews that NYSED is partnering with local educational agencies (LEAs), including districts, charter school, and BOCES, to complete. Cochran shared, “The information security office is going to work with LEAs to foster a collaborative, stronger cybersecurity posture to further drive the Education Law §2-d initiative.” He added that his office will be leveraging the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework in addition to other tools to minimize disruption and shared areas that will be reviewed throughout the process. “These reviews are important because we want to make sure that the LEAs are in the best position possible to ward off these ever-present attacks,” shared Cochran. Participants later heard from representatives from vendor Core BTS to better understand updates in NIST’s cybersecurity framework.

AI was one of the topics discussed during breakout sessions.

“I appreciate BOCES partnering with the NYSED privacy office to bring this event together and keep us up to date on the recent changes,” shared Mike Kealy, executive director of technology at Arlington Central School District. Rondout Valley Central School District’s director of technology, Chris Frenza, added, “I was really interested to learn about the New York State membership in A4L. That’s hopefully going to save us a lot of time and energy.”

Later in the day, participants split up into breakout groups on a variety of topics, including AI, physical security and lockdown systems, prepping networks for the future, and NYSED technology review. The AI group discussed benefits and drawbacks of the technology, AI platforms for education, AI use to augment lesson planning and instruction, issues with diversity and equity, and more. The group focusing on lockdown systems discussed their experiences and how to address a variety of grey areas when dealing with physical security. Joe Catania, director of data and technology at Washingtonville Central School District, shared, “Several of us have the same type of technology in our districts, so being able to spitball ideas with each other and talk about what has and hasn’t worked in the past and what ideas we have for the future has been really helpful.”
Mark Stein, the director of technology at Dutchess BOCES, said, “We’re used to collaborating within the county, but every so often, we like to pull together the four counties in our immediate region to collaborate and share information with each other, especially in our breakout sessions.”