As school system leaders, one of the most important responsibilities we have is to ensure that our students remain safe while in our care. That means not just protecting their physical safety, but also the information that we maintain about them. While there are laws at the federal and state levels that inform legal requirements to protect the privacy and security of student data, creating a successful compliance program and building trust within our communities about how we operate means going beyond the laws. It requires executing on a thoughtful, comprehensive data privacy and security program that engages all of our employees, being transparent about the ways in which we work to protect the data entrusted to us, and continuously improving our program over time.

At Raytown Quality Schools, protecting the privacy and security of student data is one of our core concerns. We leveraged the Trusted Learning Environment (TLE) program to assess how we were doing around student data privacy and security, and to provide our community with another way to understand the steps we take to protect student data. While we’ve always worked hard to develop and implement strong compliance policies and practices, going through the Trusted Learning Environment program allowed us to take objective measure of the steps we had taken and quantify the work against specific criteria developed in partnership with a variety of our school system peers.

The TLE program reinforces the idea that data privacy and security practices start with leadership: the scope of the requirements makes it clear that compliance requires “all hands,” and as leaders, we set the tone and the expectations around compliance. We also empower our teams to work together to build a comprehensive program such as the one envisioned by the TLE criteria.

Going through the TLE program can guide school systems of all shapes and sizes through a building or assessing their compliance programs. It requires bringing together existing policies and practices and lining them up against the requirements. This really helps to highlight where there might be gaps to attend to, or where a policy might not have been refreshed in a while. It reveals where your program is current and where it may need attention. Having an experienced, objective review provides even greater insight into what policies and practices are up to par, and where they can be improved.

Finally, earning the Seal is a great conversation starter within the community. For Raytown, it earned us positive attention from press and parents alike. It keeps us even more mindful of our obligations and gives us a focus to keep improving in the future.

About the Author:  Dr. Allan Markley is serving in his 9th year as Superintendent of Schools for the Raytown C-2 School District, a first tier suburban district with approximately 9700 students. Formerly, Dr. Markley served as Superintendent of the Sparta R-III and Logan-Rogersville R-VIII School Districts, also in Missouri.

Dr. Markley earned his PhD in Educational Leadership from St. Louis University and completed his Masters at University of Central Missouri. He is President of the Greater Kansas City Suburban Association of Cooperating Schools and is President-Elect of Missouri Association of School Administrators. Dr. Markley also serves on the Board of Directors for Raytown Chamber of Commerce, Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City, and is Chairman of the Board of the Missouri Securities Investment Program. He is a member of Greater Kansas City School Administrators Association, Missouri School Boards’ Association, Midwest Suburban Superintendents Association, Kansas/Missouri Superintendent Leadership Forum, and American Association of School Administrators. Locally, Dr. Markley is a member of Raytown Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.

Most recently Dr. Markley has overseen the development of an employee wellness center and health clinic and two successful bond campaigns for district wide improvements. Dr. Markley testifies before Missouri Legislators on bills affecting schools.

About the CoSN Trusted Learning Environment Program:  The Trusted Learning Environment Seal is a mark of distinction for school systems, signaling that they have taken strong and measurable steps to help protect the privacy of student data.  It is the nation’s only data privacy seal for school systems, focused on ensuring a holistic approach to student data privacy.  For more information or to find out how you can apply for the Trusted Learning Environment Seal, contact Linnette Attai or visit