The U.S. Department of Education, in coordination with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), officially launched the Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Education Facilities Subsector on March 28 to better support K-12 cybersecurity efforts.

The new council looks to expand collaboration among Federal, state, Tribal, and local governments to protect K-12 schools from cyber threats.

The White House first announced plans to create the GCC last summer, saying it will serve as the Education Department’s first step in protecting school districts from cybersecurity threats. It also looks to support school districts in their preparation, response, and recovery steps for cyberattacks.

“The GCC embodies our commitment to ensuring the cybersecurity of our nation’s schools,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten said 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.”

The Education Department said the GCC’s inaugural meeting gathered stakeholders including technology leaders, superintendents, school principals, and leaders from state and educational service agencies to discuss the council’s objectives and strategic direction.

The establishment of the GCC has been a long time coming – the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) called on the Education Department and CISA to establish the council back in 2022. The government watchdog said the council “would help facilitate ongoing communication and coordination among Federal agencies and with the K-12 community.”

The GCC also aligns with the Biden administration’s National Cybersecurity Strategy, which looks to provide a safer future for students, teachers, and communities across the nation.

“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,” Easterly added.

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