Shawnee Heights Unified School District helps students overcome geographic and economic barriers

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Updated:April 7, 2021

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Updated:April 7, 2021

Table of Contents



Shawnee Heights Unified School District 450 is a rural and suburban school district located in southeast Shawnee County, Kansas. The district is the educational center for 3,750 students ranging in age from preschool through 12th grade. The district’s mission is to provide quality education that ensures academic achievement for all students. In partnership with Cisco®, they built a secure end-to-end infrastructure with wireless access and endpoints in every classroom to help students overcome geographic and economic barriers.

Executive Summary

Customer Name: Shawnee Heights Unified School District 450

Industry: Education

Location: Shawnee County, Kansas

Size: 3,700 students, 650 staff members


  Significant increase in security threats each day, including malware, phishing, crypto-mining botnets
  Protect and filter iOS and all devices offsite, while enabling students to connect to networks when taking classes at home because of the pandemic
  COVID-19 and the impact of supporting 4,300 users in hybrid and distance learning environments
  Providing Internet connection to rural homes to support distance learning with limited bandwidth


  Cisco Secure Endpoint for iOS , optimized for iOS, combining Cisco Umbrella ® and Secure Endpoints


  Students have safe, easy access to online school content using their iPads
  School district is confident that students are protected from cyberattacks
  Shawnee Heights was well-equipped to transition all students online during the pandemic
  Cisco SecureXTM blocked 23,000 suspect Internet requests in one 30-day period


Related image, diagram or screenshot



Business Challenge and Results Summary

Shawnee Heights School District 450 is a public school district in Tecumseh, Kansas. Enabling collaboration among 3,750 students and their teachers is extremely important to the district. Shawnee Heights takes security seriously and believes that keeping students safe from harmful cyberthreats is the district’s responsibility. The mission is to provide a quality education that ensures academic achievement for all students and develops caring, productive, and responsible citizens.

COVID-19 has been a roadblock for many to continue learning successfully and safely. Fortunately, Shawnee Heights was well equipped with Cisco products from the start and smoothly transitioned from in-person to hybrid and distance learning. The district expanded its one-to-one iPad program to all students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and invested in iPads and MacBooks for all staff members. All of this occurred as they transitioned from Jamf to Mosyle for Mobile Device Management, which has allowed the district to expand control to all devices.

Shawnee Heights IT deployed a web proxy on student iPads that required authentication to filter Internet traffic. This approach proved complicated and cumbersome for both students and the Shawnee Heights IT team. To make filtering Internet traffic easier and more effective, the team turned to Cisco Secure Endpoint for iOS—an app optimized for iOS that utilizes Cisco Umbrella and Cisco Secure Endpoint. Cisco Secure Endpoint for iOS has made it very simple for staff to request a site to be unblocked. The result is that Shawnee Heights IT team now has visibility into network traffic from student iPads and can address security concerns in real time.


Winning with Security

Shawnee Heights chose Cisco Umbrella to keep students safe from cyberattacks and from connections to compromised, unsecured networks. iPads allow students to unleash their creativity while working on the safest mobile operating system in the world. However, although iOS is safe and secure, the Internet is not. With this in mind, Shawnee Heights turned to Cisco Secure to gain needed control and visibility into Internet traffic created by the fleet of 4,300 iPads issues to students and staff. The following interview was conducted with Shawnee Heights IT Director Blair Anderson, Network Specialist Austin Dinger and two alumni of the district, Rasheed McAlpin and Haley Hughes.

Q.  How long have you been a Cisco customer?
A.  We have been a Cisco customer since 2005, which is the year that I started as the Director and replaced our entire network infrastructure. Cisco has helped guide us towards the various systems to make us have an elite network. Without Cisco’s vision and knowledge of how public education functions, none of this would have happened.
Q.  What sets Cisco solutions apart from the competition?
A.  We always evaluated other technology providers when we refresh equipment, but we value the partnership we have developed with Cisco over the years and how they stand behind their customers and products. Cisco’s solutions are reliable and have proven a track record. The deployment and management are very simple to maintain, and the end-to-end solutions reduce the resources and time spent.
Q.  What recent business success have you seen which has been underpinned by technology investment?
A.  When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and forced schools to shut down and teach remotely, Shawnee Heights network was prepared to handle the change without having to purchase software or equipment to support students. We had the security in place to keep our devices safe from any network.
Two of our newest staff members, with less than a year of tech experience combined, have been able to manage 3,859 iPads, 770 Macs, and 275 Apple TVs—making sure they have Cisco Security Connector configured correctly and the devices have access to the wireless system and apps. Currently, our Mosyle deployment ranks in the top 1% of their 15,000 customers worldwide from a security standpoint (using CIS Apple iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Benchmark version 1.0.0), which is not easy to achieve. 
Q.  Can you walk us through how Cisco technology supports your overall model?
A.  In a nutshell, Cisco is our golden ticket for everything that occurs in and out of our district. Aside from providing network access for all users, it supports the doors, alarms, HVAC units, and security cameras, and keeps our devices secure at all times from any network.
Q.  Do you have any major projects planned in the next few months?
A.  We are excited to add Cisco DNA Center™ to our network. We feel this will be a game changer and will take our infrastructure and service to our users to the next level, allowing us to proactively monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize our network. DNA Center integrates nicely with our existing Cisco security solutions, and network issues are resolved in minutes before they become a major issue. 


“Cisco Secure Endpoint solution is well-suited for any size organization. It is easily deployed across all platforms and runs transparently in the background. It gives me peace of mind knowing that our staff, students, and devices are protected, no matter what network they are connected too.”

Blair Anderson, IT Director, Shawnee Heights


Product List

Cisco NextGen 2130 Firewalls

Cisco Firepower® Management Center

Cisco DNA Center

Cisco Nexus® 7K Switch

Cisco Catalyst™ 2960 switches

Cisco Catalyst 3750 switches

Cisco Catalyst 3850 switches

Cisco Catalyst 9300 switches

Cisco 2911 Integrated Services Routers

Cisco 3945 Integrated Services Routers

Cisco 9800 Series Wireless Controller (WLC)

Cisco Unified Access Points – 4800, 3802E, 1572E

Cisco Identity Services Engine (Cisco ISE)

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) chassis

Cisco UCS C-Series servers

Cisco Prime Infrastructure

Cisco AnyConnect® Secure Mobility VPN Client

Cisco Unified Communications

Cisco Emergency Responder (CER)

Cisco Unified Attendant Console

Cisco Email Security

Cisco Cloudlock

Cisco Umbrella

Cisco Secure Endpoint for iOS

Cisco Secure Endpoint for Mac and PC

Cisco SecureX ThreatResponse

Cisco Webex®

Cisco Enterprise Licensing Agreement (ELA)


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