Pocahontas BOE Delays Action on Employees Using Personal Devices on BOE Network

Discussions about the possibility of allowing school employees to access the official BOE broadband network dominated the April 12th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting. Teachers and staff feel allowing this access would promote school safety and communication abilities in the event of an active emergency at a school. Ruth Bland, the School Technology Director, explained that allowing this “Bring Your Own Device” (or BYOD) would actually be a very complicated process, and would involve changing nine existing school policies and taking expensive steps to stay in compliance with WV State laws and policies. To demonstrate this, Kristi Hamons presented a Power Point presentation which set forth the advantages and the concerns of BYOD.

The concerns are that the security of sensitive data on the school network could be subject to compromise. That could include unauthorized examination of the content of a personal device taken outside the school by other people or family members gaining access to an unattended device at home; rogue applications installed on the devices; viruses introduced into the network by these devices; insider attacks on the school network; data loss or leakage; and the loss of administrative control over activities being done on the network.

Ruth Bland said implementing BYOD while still maintaining compliance with State Laws, would require a number of things, including revising policies; setting up a separate network for those devices which would wall-off their access to protected student information;  ensuring each device has a strong anti-virus program installed; and owners of the devices must agree to sacrifice their privacy by allowing administrative monitoring of their devices, as well as having filtering software installed on their devices.

Bland said implementing all that will be expensive and take time. The Board decided to not take any action on BYOD at this meeting.

They also discussed allowing the 911 Center to access the school surveillance cameras during an emergency, but took no action yet on that until a Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU) between the BOE and the 911 Center is prepared which will address all the issues involved in that.

Jenifer Nail-Cook and three middle school math teachers briefed the board on the “m3t Local Improvement Team.” This is a team of middle and high school math teachers collaborating on more effective ways to teach math so that students are more receptive to learning it and to understanding how to figure out and solve their own math mistakes so as to not repeat them.

In his report, Superintendent Beam said he will be meeting with students and their parents who might be interested in signing up for the PCHS/Glenville State College “Grow Your Own” program on May 4th. He also said the State School Superintendent will be visiting PCHS on May 16th, and that they are considering joining a lawsuit against vape and e-cigarette manufacturers because use of those is increasing in bathrooms and on school buses and are hard to detect since they have no odor. Purchase of detection devices for those smoking devices is being considered, but they are expensive.

Beam congratulated Stephanie Burns, ELA Teacher at Marlinton Middle School as being selected as the Teacher of the Year; and Don McNeel as Service Person of the Year.

In other actions, the board:

  • Approved Child-Safe literature to be sent to parents to help them collect vital information that could be useful if their child ever went missing.
  • Approved the annual MOU with the WVU Cooperative Extension Service.
  • Approved 10 revised NEOLA policies -mostly minor revisions.
  • Approved 8 Advanced Placement courses and 9 dual credit courses for PCHS next school year.
  • Approved Scott Garber and up to five Forestry Students to travel by school bus to Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge to tour their Forestry program and to visit the WV Great Barrel Co. in Caldwell on April 26th.
  • Approved 4 Parent and Community Volunteers.
  • Approved a recommended personnel action list.

Please click on the link to the Official Agenda for this meeting ( 4-12-22 Official BOE Agenda ) for details on Personnel actions, Approved AP and Dual Credit courses and the list of approved parent and community volunteers. The only change to the approved personnel list is that Janessa Bell was approved to be employed as Cafeteria Manager at Hillsboro Elementary School. The official agenda had not included her name.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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