IT professionals know the danger of using computers when logged on with an account that has administrator permissions. When logged on with an administrator account, users have access to controls to change configurations, install software, and manage other users. All of these have potential to be set improperly. Most IT professionals have two accounts; they user a regular account when doing their day-to-day work and only log on with administrator credentials when they intend to make changes, then they log off as soon as they are done.
In general, school administrators should not be given IT administrator credentials. The potential they can inadvertently misconfigure systems is too great. In fact, no school administrator who understands the importance of secure, reliable, and robust IT systems would want to have administrator access to the systems.
Responsible IT leaders will take steps, however, to ensure the IT systems can be administered in their absence. This can include having multiple individuals with administrator credentials and it can also include making administrator credentials available to school administrators. Especially when new individuals are hired as school administrators or chief information officers, the best leaders will review plans to respond in situations such as these that arise:
- The primary system administrator becomes incapacitated by a stroke (which happened to me when I was the primary system administrator for a school; fortunately, I was able to return to work before major IT malfunctions)
- An IT professional with administrator credentials is denied a promotion and walks off the job when informed he wasn’t promoted.
- The technology coordinator for a small school is on a vacation in a remote region and the IT system becomes dysfunctional while he is gone.