Device Recovery in K-12 Schools

The ability to track, recover, and remediate lost or stolen devices is critical to support pedagogy and ensure compliance.


There are over 76 million students enrolled in US schools, according to the most recent Census data. If, conservatively, 50% of classrooms support 1:1 programs, we can estimate that 38 million student devices are actively being used in classrooms across the US. If even 0.5% of devices are lost or stolen over the course of a year, that is 190,000 students without devices, impacting the classroom, the budget, and placing student privacy and security at risk.

The ability to view all endpoint devices from one pane of glass and remediate devices at risk is critical to supporting continuity in the classroom and proving compliance with standards such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Track and Recover Missing Devices

School districts need a reliable way to identify devices on the network and where devices are located. This data is useful for many reporting requirements, helping IT assess how many devices are in a classroom or building, but geotracking proves its greatest value when devices are lost or missing. This can be one-off situations, when a student or teacher alerts IT that a device is missing, or larger tracking scenarios, such as when devices are being collected at year-end or for a planned refresh.

If a device is stolen, it is imperative to act quickly to attempt to recover that device with law enforcement professionals and to lock down or remotely wipe devices to protect sensitive student data. For irrecoverable devices, geotracking evidence is invaluable to speed up insurance claims.

FileWave provided Billings Public Schools greater transparency over their IT environment, which includes over 28,000 devices, including the discovery of devices that should have been phased out years ago. The district has leveraged FileWave on several instances of device theft. Leveraging the device lock capabilities of FileWave, the IT team displayed a custom message the has helped recover stolen devices that had been resold to an unsuspecting buyer. “The person contacted me and we got it back,” shares Christian Massie, Computer Technician at Billings Public Schools.

Locate Students with Device Tracking

Beyond tracking missing or stolen devices, FileWave’s Device Location Tracking provides greater insight into student use. For example, for a Cloud-based 1:1 program on Chromebooks, the actual device may not store software or data specific to students. As such, the devices become nearly interchangeable. Knowing this, devices may accidentally – or even purposefully – be switched among students. Device tracking, in this instance, is as much about where the device is as who is using it. In some cases, this data has revealed that a student device was being borrowed by another family member – in which case an alert could be sent to return the device to the student.

“FileWave has helped law enforcement find devices or even locate missing children.”

For Baldwin County Public Schools, who support over 43,000 devices, FileWave’s Device Location Tracking has been key to locating students, who may not be in class or who may be missing. Students are not often far from their devices, so tracking the last known location of a device provides valuable information that has been used by several law enforcement situations. 

“FileWave has provided us the ability to have locational data and knowing a device was on at this time and this location,” notes Mike Giardina, IT Coordinator for Baldwin County Schools. Combined with information on when a child went missing, and detailed reports on what websites or applications the student accessed, FileWave has been “instrumental in finding where that child was or where they had been.”

Real-Time Device Tracking with FileWave

FileWave provides a unified inventory of devices, regardless of platform (macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Chromebooks, Windows), providing at-a-glance information to track assets and powerful remediation controls to keep student data safe. As a unified solution, this data is instant and real-time – no need to log into multiple solutions or piece together reports.

    • Unified Inventory

      Easily find, track, manage, and report on devices, users, and applications.

    • Device Tracking

      Smart groups and queries can check the last known location of a single device or a group of devices. Device Location Tracking information is specific, offering more information than native tracking for Chromebooks devices, including data on who is using the device.

    • Automated Alerts

      If anything goes wrong (such as a device leaving the country), customizable alert notifications can be configured to automatically email the appropriate person(s) of status changes.

    • Privacy Settings

      Device and global privacy settings provide flexibility and complete control as to which devices are tracked, ensuring privacy guidelines are met.

    • Remote Remediation

      Limit device access to the network, lock, or wipe a device that could be at risk

Want to see how FileWave enables these and other important endpoint management functions? Join us for a free demo of our software. 

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