Reminder of Cybersecurity Opportunity for Students

As a reminder, ‘GirlsGoCyberStart’, an exciting national program that uses online games of discovery to introduce high school girls to the cybersecurity field, is open for registration. Young women in high school who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win scholarships and other prizes.

This will be Maine’s second year participating in the program. Last year, nearly two hundred students from all over Maine participated in the event and placed in the top 100 of all participating state teams.

Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or programming experience.  All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. The website for registration can be found here. Registration for GirlsGoCyberStart runs from February 18, 2019 to March 20, 2019, when the event begins.

To be eligible to participate, students must:

  • Identify as female
  • Be at least 13 years old.
  • Be enrolled in 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th grade at a public or private school (or the home school equivalent)

For further information please contact Carrie Valentine, Director of Workforce Innovations for the Maine Office of Information Technology at Carrie.Valentine@maine.gov.

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Participates in National Cybersecurity Opportunity for Young Women in High School

To help educate more young women about the opportunities in the field of cybersecurity, Governor Janet Mills, the Maine Office of Information Technology, and the Maine Department of Education are promoting ‘GirlsGoCyberStart’, an exciting national program that uses online games of discovery to introduce high school girls to the field.

“Cybersecurity is a growing and critical field. It is more important than ever before to train skilled experts in Maine and across the nation to defend our national and financial security,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This program will help young women pursue the education and training they need for lifelong careers and leadership positions in cybersecurity.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 28 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high, as these analysts will be needed to create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Maine students to showcase the incredible skills and talent they have acquired from the many computer science initiatives, programs, and curricula happening in schools throughout Maine,” said Maine Education Commissioner A. Pender Makin.

CyberStart was created by the SANS Institute and was first piloted to youth in the summer of 2017. The program enabled 3,500 students nation-wide to discover and demonstrate their aptitude for cybersecurity, yet only five percent of the students who participated were young women.  The results of the pilot sparked the GirlsGoCyberStart program, specifically designed to interest young women in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.

This will be Maine’s second year participating in the GirlsGoCyberStart.  Last year, nearly two hundred students from all over Maine participated in the event and placed in the top 100 of all participating state teams.

“We are excited to join this wonderful opportunity to expand our talent pipeline by engaging young people interested in learning more about cybersecurity and directing them to the appropriate training and career coaching,” said Ande Smith, acting Chief Information Officer for the Office of Information Technology.

Maine students who participate in GirlsGoCyberStart will be doing so alongside students from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or programming experience.  All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Young women in high school who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win scholarships and other prizes.  The website for registration opens on February 18, 2019. More information about the program and eligibility can be found at CyberStartUS.

For more information about Maine’s participation in the program, contact Dr. Kelly Samson-Rickert, Director of Workforce Innovations for the Maine Office of Information Technology at Kelly.Rickert@maine.gov or 207-624-9965.

U.S. Department of Education Acts on School Safety Report Recommendation to Improve Understanding of Student Privacy Law

The U.S. Department of Education released a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on schools’ and districts’ responsibilities under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in the context of school safety.

The Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) released an in-depth report last December, which observed that “substantial misunderstanding remains at the local level among officials and educators concerning (FERPA), and in particular its application to school-based threats.”

This FAQ document, titled, School Resource Officers, School Law Enforcement Units and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), consolidates previously issued guidance and technical assistance into a single resource to help raise schools’ and districts’ awareness of these provisions.

The document consists of 37 commonly asked questions about schools’ and school districts’ responsibilities under FERPA relating to disclosures of student information to school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement units and others, and seeks to explain and clarify how FERPA protects student privacy while ensuring the health and safety of students and others in the school community.

The FAQ document includes answers to common FERPA questions involving school safety, such as:

  • Can law enforcement unit officials who are off-duty police officers or SROs be considered school officials under FERPA and, therefore, have access to students’ education records?
  • Does FERPA permit schools and districts to disclose education records, without consent, to outside law-enforcement officials who serve on a school’s threat assessment team?
  • When is it permissible for schools or districts to disclose student education records under FERPA’s health or safety emergency exception?
  • Does FERPA permit school officials to release information that they personally observed or of which they have personal knowledge?

The full FAQ document can be found here.

For additional information on the meetings, field visits, listening sessions, roundtables and other resources used to produce the FCSS report, please visit the U.S. DOE’s school safety website.

Bullying Prevention: Online Professional Development

Through a collaborative effort with Safe Schools, an industry leader in K-12 school safety, the Maine DOE is providing all schools free, equitable access to professional development that addresses Maine’s anti-bullying law.  The professional development course, Bullying: Recognition & Response, specifically highlights An Act to Prohibit Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools and addresses the proper use of Maine DOE’s model bullying policy and procedures, which can be found here.

Bullying: Recognition & Response is an online video that is 67 minutes in length and is divided into 7 sections, with a quiz at the end.  The video can be shown to a large group, small groups, or viewed individually.  Delivery of the video should be done in a way that best meets the staff’s professional development needs and is responsive to the school district’s efforts to address bullying.

To access this professional development, district or school leadership should contact Justin Moore, justin.moore@vectorsolutions.com, or Allison Byndas, allison.byndas@vectorsolutions.com at Safe Schools.

For more information related to bullying prevention efforts in Maine schools, please contact Sarah Adkins, Student Assistance Coordinator, at sarah.adkins@maine.gov or 624-6685.

Rural Maine Attendance Summit to be held April 11

Rural Maine Attendance is hosting small school districts from across the state for a day-long summit held at gather at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer on April 11th, 2019 with experts from across the state to talk about ways to improve chronic absenteeism in rural schools.

This summit will help generate more tools, and allow for the exchanging of ideas regarding the growing issues that are keeping kids from accessing school. Any and all rural Maine school districts with less than 1,000 (or so) students are invited to this conference.

Groups of people (two or more) from districts are welcome to attend and/or staff that deal with attendance issues such as Social Workers, Guidance, Principals, Lead Teachers, etc.

For more information visit the Rural Maine Attendance website.