Leaders from AASA, The School Superintendents Association, joined First Lady Jill Biden, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas at a summit today focused on cybersecurity in the nation’s K-12 schools.

Gustavo Balderas, AASA president-elect and superintendent of the Beaverton (Ore.) School District, attended the Back to School Safely, Cybersecurity for K-12 Schools event to learn about resources available to the education sector and show support for cross-governmental leadership on this important issue.

“The wide-reaching impact of cyber threats and attacks on our nation’s schools makes this crisis and any response an ‘all hands on deck’ scenario,” said Balderas. “Today’s summit is a strong step in the right direction for ensuring a federal role in addressing cyber attacks, including support for schools. School superintendents have vastly different experiences with cybersecurity, from what they know and what they’ve experienced in their districts to how they structure their responses and prepare their broader communities. The collaborative focus of today’s event sets an important tone for meeting districts where they are, with what they need, to do the important work of keeping schools open and safely operating.”

Cybersecurity is not just an education issue, and AASA is grateful for continued focus on the issue both broadly and in what it means for the nation’s schools. Schools faced 1,619 cybersecurity incidents between 2016 and 2022, according to the K-12 Security Information Exchange, a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the U.S. K-12 community from emerging cybersecurity threats. Ransomware attacks reportedly cost educational institutions $9.45 billion in 2022 alone.

Earlier this summer, Jessica Rosenworcel, chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), spoke to AASA and the Association of School Business Officials International and announced a new $200 million pilot program to support cybersecurity services for K-12 schools and libraries. That step, paired with today’s announcements from USED, CISA, the FBI and other federal players are an excellent starting point in this effort.

AASA appreciates partnerships at the national and local levels to ensure cybersecurity in schools remains a top priority, and will work with the White House, Congress and partnering federal agencies to represent superintendents and their experiences with and needs related to cyber security in schools as part of this important work.

For additional information, contact Noelle Ellerson Ng, AASA associate executive director, advocacy and governance, at nellerson@aasa.org.

About AASA

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.