Bladen County Schools to increase cyber security

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County Schools will be getting an additional layer of security for students on the internet.

Monday evening at its monthly meeting, the Board approved purchase of a security program that promises to up the system’s already robust cyber security.

“We’ve been piloting this over the last couple of weeks and moving forward to making the purchase,” Bladen County Schools Technology Director Jason Atkinson told board members. “We have had very positive feedback from teachers and administrators.”

The program, already in use by multiple systems, according to Atkinson, works by utilizing a set of terms common on inappropriate web sites. The list can be propagated by the system, with administrators being able to either add to or remove certain words.

“This will not prevent teachers from bringing up resources,” Atkinson informed the Board, adding educators would have the ability themselves to override the system.

Blocking inappropriate sites is far from the only feature of the software, and students may not like some of the others.

“It will block students from going on Facebook, Twitter, those kinds of things,” Atkinson remarked.

Real-time emails will be sent from the software informing administrators of breaches, as well as instances of students with safety concerns, such as searching for “suicide” or “self-harm.”

“There have actually been instances where the system has intervened and saved a child’s life,” Atkinson commented.

Device location will allow district leaders to locate stolen or misplaced devices, and a penalty box will allow violators to still use computers, but with severe restrictions. Additionally, a web history for each piece of equipment will, staff believe, aid them in resolving questions about student activity online.

The cost of the system is approximately $14,000.

“We feel like this is a great move,” said Atkinson. “We wish we would have had something like this a long time ago.”

In other business, the board:

— Heard updates on Early College, the school calendar, opioids, and maintenance.

— Approved the CTE local plan presented by Willa Dean Williams.

The next meeting of the Bladen County Board of Education will be Monday, June 11, at 6 p.m. at the Board of Education building.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal