Last revised 4/21/22
This handbook is intended to help technical and compliance-focused education professionals understand SameGoal's policies in this area. It is meant as a companion document to SameGoal Terms & Privacy. Purposes include:
We expect this handbook to change from time to time as we work to clarify our policies. In the event this handbook conflicts in any way with SameGoal Terms & Privacy, our Terms & Privacy prevail.
SameGoal takes data security, privacy and compliance very seriously. At a glance:
Our strong commitment to data security, privacy and compliance contribute to SameGoal's 99%+ annual customer retention rate.
The following terms are used throughout this handbook.
"SameGoal Services" includes all services provided by SameGoal in the course of fulfilling a contractual license term.
"Client" means any entity or individual who purchases SameGoal Services. The most common SameGoal Clients are local education agencies (LEAs) and state agencies.
"User" means individuals authorized by the Client to access and use SameGoal Services.
"Client Data" refers to any data entered or exchanged through use of SameGoal Services.
"Record" means any information recorded in any way, including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, microfiche and email.
"Education Records" are Records that are directly related to a student and that are maintained by an educational agency or institution, or a party acting for or on behalf of the agency or institution. Learn more
"Personally Identifiable Information" or "PII" means information and metadata that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student so as to allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty. Personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: (a) the student's name; (b) the name of the student's parent or other family members; (c) the address or phone number of the student or student's family; (d) personal identifiers such as the student's state-assigned student identifier, social security number, student number or biometric record; (e) indirect identifiers such as the student's date of birth, place of birth or mother's maiden name; and (f) demographic attributes, such as race, socioeconomic information, and gender.
"Student Profile" means a collection of PII data elements relating to a student of the Client.
"Incident" means a suspected, attempted, or imminent threat of a security event that compromises, or has the potential to compromise, the integrity, confidentiality, or availability of Client Data.
"Data Breach" is an incident that results in the confirmed disclosure of Client Data to an unauthorized party.
"Mine Client Data" means the act of searching through, analyzing, accessing, or extracting Client Data, metadata, or information not necessary to provide SameGoal Services.
"Securely Destroy" means to remove Client Data from SameGoal systems, paper files, records, databases, and any other media regardless of format so that Client Data is permanently irretrievable by SameGoal and any subcontractors through the normal course of business.
SameGoal provides a fully hosted, standards-based web application.
SameGoal is architected as a distributed system, meaning all servers can easily be run from any machine in SameGoal's production infrastructure. The number of servers running for any portion of the system can easily be scaled up or down.
Each Client has its own, separate database on SameGoal servers.
All Client Data is hosted on dedicated, SameGoal owned and operated servers colocated at SOC 2 Type II Audit Certified data centers. Production servers are physically located in Elk Grove Village, IL. Backup servers are physically located in Madison, WI.
SameGoal uses no third-party hosting providers.
SameGoal provides a web-based application that supports the current and previous version at any given time of all major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Safari.
SameGoal supports any platform these browsers run on, including desktop computers, Chromebooks, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.
Users accessing SameGoal must be connected to the internet. The internet may be accessed over Wi-Fi, wired connection, or a User's device data plan. SameGoal does not require out of the ordinary bandwidth requirements.
If a Client's Users access SameGoal from behind a firewall, access to samegoal.com must be permitted.
If a Client chooses to use LDAP/Active Directory to authenticate its Users with SameGoal, a network connection is required; the SameGoal IP Range must be permitted.
SameGoal maintains a cross-functional team that reviews customer feedback and enhancement requests on a quarterly basis. Feature and functionality enhancements that SameGoal, in its own discretion, determines are most likely to deliver a high degree of benefit to a large number of Clients are prioritized for placement on the product development roadmap. Product updates are free of charge throughout a license term, but each update may apply to all, or only some, license editions.
SameGoal is also updated frequently in response to state and federal legislative changes. These compliance-related updates bypass quarterly review, and instead are handled as quickly as possible by our state customization team. These compliance-related changes are deployed to all SameGoal license editions.
Software updates are released often. They vary in scope (e.g. very minor bug fixes or state changes) to general functionality enhancements. When a software update is deemed significant in nature, Clients are provided notice and documentation in advance.
Software updates are applied globally across all Clients. Assistance from Client's technical staff is not required. Individual Clients cannot opt out of updates.
SameGoal performs all upgrades, patches and updates related to SameGoal Services. From the Client's perspective, there are no standard maintenance windows for SameGoal.
SameGoal agrees to maintain 99% uptime during regular business hours. See Service Level Agreement, 4. Minimum Applicable Service Levels
Each Client's data is housed in a separate PostgreSQL database. Under normal operations, all databases are backed up at least once per day. These backups are automated and actively monitored.
Database backups are regularly placed on each Client's SameGoal SFTP account, where they may be securely downloaded by the Client.
Both SameGoal and the Client can use the standard PostgreSQL database retoration utility pg_restore to restore a Client database. PostgreSQL is free and open source.
SameGoal takes steps to prepare for and prevent against deleterious effects of unexpected events and catastrophic emergencies. Some examples include:
In the event all three copies of Client Data became unusable or unavailable, SameGoal is able to restore to the Client's last backup. In most cases of catastrophic failure, SameGoal anticipates service restoration in less than one day. In extreme cases, restoration time could increase.
SameGoal provides many methods of Client Data integration.
Data integration may include the transfer of information stored in another application to SameGoal Services, from SameGoal Services to another application, or both. Integration may occur on a one-time basis, automatic basis, or both with respect to the extent of integration(s) involved. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 4. Integration
SameGoal strives to address the accessibility needs of its diverse Users, many of whom use assistive technologies with the program. As accessibility issues are reported, they are triaged and resolved.
SameGoal has not completed a formal review process to ensure compliance with Section 508 and does not publish a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). These are areas of future consideration.
The Client owns Client Data entered or exchanged through use of SameGoal services. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 6. Data Ownership
SameGoal collects information related to user accounts, students, special program documentation and system access. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 1f. Information Collected. Data is collected via:
Client Data is collected for Special Programs documentation and includes PII. PII data elements SameGoal Services collects includes, but is not limited to:
SameGoal uses Client Data for the following purposes:
SameGoal does not:
See Data and Privacy Agreement, 1.d User communications
SameGoal does not display advertisements or share information with advertisers. Users are not tracked or targeted for advertisement using any first or third party technology. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 1e. Advertisements
SameGoal has access to Client's Education Records. Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 99 ("FERPA"), a Client using SameGoal Services designates SameGoal as a "school official" with "legitimate educational interests" in Client's Education Records and PII disclosed pursuant to Client's use of SameGoal Services.
SameGoal does not use subcontractors in conjunction with delivering SameGoal Services, except for:
SameGoal may make changes to its "Terms of Service", "Service Level Agreement" and "Data and Privacy Agreement" from time to time. When these changes are made, SameGoal will provide 30 days advance notice and make an updated copy available to you from within, or through, the affected SameGoal Services. See Terms of Service, 12. Changes to the Terms
SameGoal stores and processes Client Data in accordance with commercial best practices, including implementing appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to secure Client Data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and use.
SameGoal restricts access to Client Data, internal systems and internal infrastructure to exclusively SameGoal employees, contractors and agents who need access in order to operate, develop, support or improve SameGoal Services. These individuals are bound by confidentiality obligations and may be subject to discipline, including termination and criminal prosecution, if they fail to meet these obligations.
Client Data is hosted at SOC 2 Type II Audit Certified data centers. These data centers provide superior physical safeguards, including:
Physical access to locked server cabinets at these data centers is restricted to a small number of individuals whose identity is verified at point of entry. All data is encrypted both in transmission and at rest.
Similarly, remote access to both production and backup servers is restricted to a small number of individuals. Remote server access requires authentication via public key only (no passwords), SSH protocol version 2 connections only, and provides no shell access.
SameGoal uses many technical safeguards to protect against unauthorized access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of Client Data. Technical safeguards include, but are not limited to:
A common attack vector for web applications is a compromised User account. To that effect, SameGoal employs complete segmentation of Client Data; each Client has its own, separate database.
SameGoal regularly verifies expected security safeguards are in place. Some methods include:
A "SOC 2 Type 2 Independent Service Auditor's Report" can be provided by SameGoal's colocation hosting service provider upon Client request.
SameGoal does not provide results or confirmation of commissioned third-party security audit results, or commission third-party security audits at Client request.
If a Client independently uses or subscribes to a third-party security monitoring software, Client may use this to analyze SameGoal and provide SameGoal with results. However, these programs often lack nuance and understanding of the systems they scan, and frequently return false positives. For this reason, SameGoal may decide whether or not to review, respond and/or take action on any Client-provided third-party audit report at its own discretion.
Immediately upon becoming aware of a security Incident, or upon receiving a complaint of an Incident, SameGoal will fully investigate the Incident following industry best practices. SameGoal will also take steps to prevent developments that may result in the Incident becoming a Data Breach and resolve the Incident.
If investigation of an Incident confirms Client Data was disclosed to an unauthorized party, SameGoal will provide written notice to the Client. SameGoal will not provide notice directly to individuals whose PII was involved, to regulatory agencies, or other entities without first providing written notice to the Client, except as otherwise required by law.
In the event of a Data Breach that discloses Client Data to an unauthorized party, SameGoal will provide written notice to the Client that includes a "Data Breach Investigation Report" (DBIR) once the investigation has concluded and steps have been taken to prevent further disclosure of Client Data.
The DBIR is a written report, including any supporting documentation, that identifies:
If a Data Breach results in downtime of SameGoal Services, the Client may be entitled to a license fee credit per the SameGoal Service Level Agreement. If the Client chooses to terminate its use of SameGoal Services following a Data Breach, the Client may request a refund of remaining prepaid SameGoal license fees.
Note: SameGoal has had no known Data Breach since 2008 (founded). A Client has never terminated use of SameGoal Services due to SameGoal's failure to comply with its security obligations.
Except as otherwise expressly prohibited by law, SameGoal will:
If the Client receives a subpoena, warrant, or other legal order, demand or request seeking Client Data maintained by SameGoal, the Client has many end-user availabile tools it may use to facilitate a response. For example:
If the Client needs further assistance or information in formulating a response, the Client may contact SameGoal. SameGoal will take reasonable efforts to assist the Client in producing requested information.
If a parent, legal guardian or student contacts SameGoal with a request to review or correct Client Data or PII, SameGoal will direct this individual to instead contact the Client.
If a parent, legal guardian or adult student contacts the Client with a request to review or correct Client Data or PII, the Client may contact SameGoal. At the direction of the Client, SameGoal will use reasonable and good faith efforts to assist the Client in fulfilling such requests within ten (10) calendar days of being contacted by the Client.
SameGoal abides by applicable state and federal laws. Examples of federal laws SameGoal abides by relevant to the provision of SameGoal Services includes:
Examples of federal laws that may apply to Client's other services but do not apply to SameGoal Services include:
The Client may terminate SameGoal Services at any time and request a refund of remaining prepaid SameGoal license fees.
SameGoal may terminate provision of contracted SameGoal Services with a Client at any time if any of the events below occur. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 8. Ending your Relationship with SameGoal
The Client is responsible for extracting desired data collected through SameGoal Services upon termination. Some options include:
If the Client plans to terminate use of SameGoal Services via non-renewal for an upcoming school year, and notifies SameGoal at least one month in advance of the current license term ending, SameGoal offers a 6 month window of free access to SameGoal Services in order to allow the Client a smoother transition. If after this free service window the Client decides to continue use of SameGoal Services, the Client is then responsible for the full cost of the annual subscription.
SameGoal allows Clients to securely access and extract data from SameGoal Services. The Client is responsible for securely transfering any Client Data from SameGoal to another third-party provider. The Client and/or third-party providers are responsible for any post-processing and import of Client Data extracted from SameGoal Services. SameGoal does not offer custom development services to provide Client Data in a custom data format.
Upon Client's termination of use of SameGoal Services, the Client's SameGoal environment is inactivated. SameGoal will Securely Destroy Client's data within 60 days of receipt of written request. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 6. Data Ownership
This process includes:
SameGoal will confirm to the Client in writing once the Client's data has been permanently deleted.
By accessing and using SameGoal Services, Users agree not to sue or institute any cause of action or legal proceeding of any nature against SameGoal or any of its affiliates, or its or their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives, agents, licensors, licensees, successors and assigns (collectively the "Released Parties") for, and agree to release, acquit, forever discharge and compensate and hold harmless the Released Parties from and against, any and all costs, damages (actual, consequential, special, incidental, indirect, exemplary, punitive or otherwise), losses, liabilities, claims or expenses (including attorneys' fees) of any kind and nature, known and unknown, suspected and unsuspected, disclosed and undisclosed (collectively, "Damages"), arising out of, relating to, or in any way connected with User access or use of SameGoal Services. See Data and Privacy Agreement, 10. Release and Limitation of Liability.
SameGoal maintains professional liability coverage. Coverage includes:
A certificate of insurance (COI) can be provided upon Client request.