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U.S. Department of Education Launches Government Coordinating Council to Strengthen Cybersecurity in Schools 

The U.S. Department of Education (Department), in coordination with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), launched the Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Education Facilities Subsector, a pivotal step forward in the national effort to enhance cybersecurity across K-12 educational institutions. This new council signifies an unprecedented level of collaboration between federal, state, tribal, and local governments to protect schools from cybersecurity threats. The Education Facilities Subsector is part of the Government Facilities Sector, one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors defined in Presidential Policy Directive 21. 

In recent years, the PK-12 cybersecurity landscape has become increasingly complex, with school districts across the country experiencing ransomware attacks that shut down schools and data breaches that expose sensitive health, financial, and educational data on students, families, and staff. The formation of the GCC is a direct response to these challenges, aiming to foster a more resilient and secure K-12 digital infrastructure through structured dialogue and shared best practices. 

“The GCC embodies our commitment to ensuring the cybersecurity of our nation’s schools,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten in remarks delivered to K-12 educational leaders. “This initiative represents a monumental step forward in formalizing the partnership between federal, state, and local educational leaders in protecting our K-12 critical infrastructure.” 

This collaborative effort builds on significant progress made by the Department in partnership with CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies. Notably, the launch follows the “Back to School Safely” K-12 Cybersecurity Summit hosted by First Lady Jill Biden at the White House in August, underscoring the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing cyber incident prevention, mitigation, and recovery in K-12 schools. 

“The importance of protecting our schools, students, and educators from cyber threats cannot be overstated — I’m very proud of the work the Department of Education and CISA are doing in this critical area, working collaboratively with the K-12 community,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly. “I am especially excited that the Education Facilities Subsector Government Coordinating Council is being launched today; it will have a vital role in helping to guide efforts to ensure a safer and more resilient learning environment for our classrooms across the nation.” 

The GCC’s inaugural meeting brought together a diverse group of educational stakeholders, including technology leaders, superintendents, school principals, as well as leaders from state agencies and educational service agencies to outline the GCC’s objectives and strategic direction. 

The GCC marks a significant milestone in the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Strategy, promising a safer, more secure future for students, teachers, and communities across the country. The Department of Education is committed to continuing its work with federal, state, and local partners to strengthen cybersecurity measures and ensure that our schools remain safe and supportive learning environments for all students. 

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