From the Superintendent's Desk

Parents & Patrons-

Members of the Ravenna Public Schools Administrative Team, Ravenna Police Department Officer Thomas Holmes, and Ravenna Public Schools Technology Coordinator, Mr. Dave Hurtya, recently attended the Nebraska Safety and Security Summit, which was held in Kearney on October 9th & 10th. The focus of this year’s training was utilizing technology to identify and to mitigate threats to school safety that are made on-line. Those in attendance were taught how to conduct “cyber searches” for the purpose of identifying, evaluating, and minimizing threatening behavior that occurs on-line. Research indicates that a predominant number of the aggressors, who perpetrate act of violence, post disturbing and telling information on-line in advance of their assaults. This recent training helped equipped law enforcement and administrators with the capacity to find and evaluate such information. During the presentation, attendees were presented with a variety of stories from around the country about how law enforcement has worked with schools to use technology to gain the identity and location of those making threats. As a result of being able to locate, interview, and intervene with these individuals making threats, threats to the safety of schools and to the general public have been eliminated.

During the course of the presentation, the expert in cyber research said, “Get ready! I’m going to show you something that I want you to tell to every parent and to every student in your school district.” He then went on to show attendees how to manipulate the “locations” setting on their smart phones. As he explained it, nearly every application (app) that a person has on their smart phone uses the “location” setting in some capacity. This makes perfect sense when one considers an application like “Maps” or any other application that helps users get directions and navigate. However, there are many other applications, such as the camera app and others, that students may be using and unknowingly offering their exact location to those they communicate with. When the locations setting is enabled on a user’s phone for the camera app, the app creates invisible imbedded data into the picture, which can easily and quickly be extracted to reveal exactly where the picture was taken.

In short, if a user sends a picture to a potential perpetrator, a tech savvy perpetrator can determine the user’s exact physical location in a short amount of time, if the location setting for the camera application on the smart phone is enabled. The picture that they send of themselves or others can easily be captured, the imbedded data in the picture can be extracted, and their identity and physical location can be obtained. The implications for a student’s safety are fairly obvious: students may be unknowingly providing their location and identity to others who plan to do them harm.

I highly encourage parents to discuss the use of the “location” settings on their student’s smart phone. Parents can easily learn how to understand and manipulate their student’s smart phone’s settings by visiting the following websites:

For iPhone Smart Phones: https://www.macworld.com/article/3327570/how-to-disable-location-tracking-on-your-iphone.html

For Android Smart Phones: https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/12/18302306/android-101-location-tracking-stop-how-to

Please review your student’s “location settings” for the various applications (apps) they have on their smart phones, and please contact the school’s tech coordinator, Mr. Dave Hurtya, if you need additional assistance in navigating these settings. Ensuring your student’s location settings are correctly set on their smart phones is an easy, solid step towards ensuring your student’s cyber safety.