Any good disaster recovery plan will be based on an assessment of the agency's existing data systems. This includes analysis of the operational schedule for all data systems, as well as identifying which systems are most critical to serving displaced students, which have sensitive data, which are paper-based, and which are automated. The assessment should also determine the specific technology each system uses. Any data collections still in paper format should be evaluated for automation as paper collections are much more vulnerable to loss in a disaster.
Maintaining the security and confidentiality of individual student data is a critical aspect of sound student data systems. The National Forum on Education Statistics has developed several best practice guides for preserving the confidentiality of student data; see appendix A for a detailed description of these resources.
Lessons Learned: Moving From Paper To Electronic Records
In Louisiana, many Individual Education Plans (IEPs) were maintained in paper form and destroyed during hurricane Katrina. The lack of official IEPs posed significant placement challenges for schools and districts that received these special education students. Louisiana has since implemented a web-based system that school districts use to electronically store IEPs on state-operated servers. Access to all IEPs is now readily available to districts receiving special education students who transfer within Louisiana. In the event of another large- scale crisis, this state-housed system could be used to share data with entities outside the state as well.