Monday, January 11, 2010

524 - Internet usage POLICY RECOMMENDED CHANGES 2010

This is a copy of our school district acceptable use policy.  Many of us felt it was time to revise it to include current trends and issues.  We also felt it was too restrictive and didn't allow for a lot of great things that can be done with Web 2 technologies and mobile devices.  My comments are in red, proposed changes are in blue.  If you would be willing to help us with revamping this policy please add your own recommended changes in green.  (You may edit this document)




Goodhue, MN  55027 





I.              PURPOSE


The purpose of this policy is to set forth policies and guidelines for access to the school district computer system and acceptable and safe use of the Internet, including electronic communications.




In making decisions regarding student and employee access to the school district computer system and the Internet, including electronic communications, the school district considers its own stated educational mission, goals, and objectives.  Electronic information research skills are now fundamental to preparation of citizens and future employees.  Access to the school district computer system and to the Internet enables students and employees to explore thousands of libraries, databases, bulletin boards, and other resources while exchanging messages communicating and publishing with people around the world.  The school district expects that faculty will blend thoughtful use of the school district computer system and the Internet throughout the curriculum and will provide guidance and instruction to students in their use.




The school district is providing students and employees with access to the school district computer system, which includes Internet access.  The purpose of the system is more specific than providing students and employees with general access to the Internet.  The school district system has a limited educational purpose, which includes use of the system for classroom activities, educational research, and professional or career development activities.  Users are expected to use Internet access through the district system to further educational and personal goals consistent with the mission of the school district and school policies. Uses which might be acceptable on a user’s private personal account on another system may not be acceptable on this limited-purpose network.




The use of the school district system and access to use of the Internet is a privilege, not a right (This will likely change in the next 5-10 years.  No need to do anything with this language right now though).  Depending on the nature and degree of the violation and the number of previous violations, unacceptable use of the school district system or the Internet may result in one or more of the following consequences:  suspension or cancellation of use or access privileges; payments for damages and repairs; discipline under other appropriate school district policies, including suspension, expulsion, exclusion or termination of employment; or civil or criminal liability under other applicable laws.




A.              The following uses of the school district system and Internet resources or accounts are considered unacceptable:


(Items V.A.1.a- V.A.1.d are too vague and need stronger more descriptive language to avoid confusion.)

1.      Users will not use the school district system to access, review, upload, download, store, print, post, receive, transmit or distribute:


a.              content harmful to minors such as pornographic, obscene or sexually explicit material or other visual depictions that are harmful to minors;


b.              information or materials that could cause damage or danger to others including that which is obscene,

Redundant, already in V.A.1.a.

abusive, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening, or disrespectful, or sexually explicit language

Redundant, already in V.A.1.a.



c.              materials that use language or images that are inappropriate in the education setting or disruptive to the educational process learning environment

Learning environment is more descriptive than learning process and takes into account how what is disruptive in one place might be necessary in another. 



d.              information or materials that could cause damage or danger of disruption to the educational process;

Combining this language with that in V.A.1.b. adds definition to the terms listed in b, the other portion already is addressed in V.A.1.c


d. e.              materials that use language or images that advocate violence or discrimination toward other people (hate literature) or that may constitute harassment or discrimination.


2.              Users will not use the school district system to knowingly or recklessly post, transmit or distribute false or defamatory information about a person or organization, or to harass another person, or to engage in personal attacks, including prejudicial or discriminatory attacks.


3.              Users will not use the school district system to engage in any illegal act or violate any local, state or federal statute or law.


4.              Users will not use the school district system to vandalize, damage or disable the property of another person or organization, will not make deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt equipment, software or system performance by spreading computer viruses or by any other means, will not tamper with, modify or change the school district system software, hardware or wiring or take any action to violate the school district’s security  system, and will not use the school district system in such a way as to disrupt the use of the system by other users.


5.              Users will not use the school district system to gain unauthorized access to information resources or to access another person’s materials, information or files without the implied or direct permission of that person.


6.              Users will not use the school district system to post private information about another person, personal contact information about themselves or other persons, or other

This limits us from signing up for free and paid web services that are appropriate and beneficial for education including but not limited to wikis, blogs, Google Docs and other Google services, online education organizations and learning networks, joining webinars, etc.  

personally identifiable information about other persons including, but not limited to, addresses, telephone numbers, school addresses, work addresses, identification numbers, account numbers, access codes or passwords, labeled photographs or other information that would make the individual’s identity easily traceable, and will not repost a message that was sent to the user privately without permission of the person who sent the message. 


a.              This paragraph does not prohibit the posting of employee contact information on school district webpages or communications between employees and other individuals when such communications are made for education-related purposes (i.e., communications with parents or other staff members related to students).


b.              Employees creating or posting school-related webpages may include personal contact information about themselves on a webpage. However, employees may not post personal contact information or other personally identifiable information about students unless:


(1)              such information is classified by the school district as directory information, and verification is made that the school district has not received notice from a parent/guardian or eligible student that such information is not to be designated as directory information in accordance with Policy 515; or


(2)              such information is not classified by the school district as directory information but written consent for release of the information to be posted has been obtained from a parent/guardian or eligible student in accordance with Policy 515.


In addition, prior to posting any personal contact or personally identifiable information about a student or other staff member on a school-related webpage, employees shall obtain written approval of the content of the postings from the building administrator

We might want to define this better otherwise our administrators will have to micromanage everything a teacher does online.  This becomes especially troublesome when using online teaching tools such as Moodle.  According to this policy every reply to a student comment on a discussion board needs prior approval from administration.  This is unrealistic.   There is no way we can follow this policy and have any kind of online learning initiatives or hybrid learning environments.



c.              These prohibitions specifically prohibit a user from utilizing the school district system to post personal information about a user or another individual on social networks, including, but not limited to, social networks such as “MySpace” and “Facebook.”

We need to replace this section with a new school social media policy under section V.A.


7.              Users must keep all account information and passwords on file with the designated school district official.  Users will not attempt to gain unauthorized access to the school district system or any other system through the school district system, attempt to log in through another person’s account, or use computer accounts, access codes or network identification other than those assigned to the user.  Messages and records on the school district system may not be encrypted without the permission of appropriate school authorities.


8.              Users will not use the school district system to violate copyright laws or usage licensing agreements, or otherwise to use another person’s property without the person’s prior approval or proper citation, including the downloading or exchanging of pirated software or copying software to or from any school computer, and will not plagiarize works they find on the Internet.


9.              Users will not use the school district system for conducting business, for unauthorized commercial purposes or for financial gain unrelated to the mission of the school district. Users will not use the school district system to offer or provide goods or services or for product advertisement.  Users will not use the school district system to purchase goods or services for personal use without authorization from the appropriate school district official.  Exceptions to this policy include:


(1)              advertisements that appear on free online tools and applications such as Wikispaces, Edublogger, or Google as a way the hosting company funds its service and keeps it free for its users so long as those adds do not violate policy 524.V.A.1.


(2)              school-sponsored fundraisers.


10.                Goodhue Public Schools encourages the use of social media technologies to enhance communication, collaboration, and information exchange in support of our school’s mission. 


Definitions. "Social media" and “Web 2.0” are umbrella terms that refer to websites that allow users to both read and publish content.  Content may range from text, images, video, audio, shared links, or data.              These include but are not limited to blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, social networking, microblogging, image sharing, video sharing, and virtual worlds.

Adapted from the GSA social media policy:

Students and staff participating in social media and social networking websites must follow the following code of conduct guidelines:

(1)             Use a disclaimer. Employees must include a disclaimer on their personal blog and other social sites in which they state that opinions are theirs alone and not their employer’s. An example: “The opinions expressed on this Web site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Goodhue Public Schools.”

(2)           Don’t share secrets. Be careful not to disclose sensitive or proprietary information, including financial details or any other internal matter. Disclosing private information about specific students, staff, or any other person affiliated with the school is also a violation.

(3)           Be yourself. If you’re posting about matters related to your employer, be candid about who you are and who you work for. Although some bloggers post anonymously, it’s recommended that you use your real name on social media sites and are up front about your professional role.

(4)           Respect copyright. Understanding copyright and fair use laws with regard to republishing protected content and referencing sources is your responsibility. It’s customary in the blogosphere to cite sources by linking to them within blog posts, and it’s recommended that you do so.

(5)           Follow acceptable use policy. Be aware that all existing policies and employee behavior guidelines extend to the online arena as well as the workplace. Policies regarding acceptable and unacceptable use (V.A.1-C.A.10) apply when using social media sites for school-related activities and using the school network  to access these web sites.

(6)           Use good judgment. Think about the type of image that you want to convey on behalf of the school when you’re posting to social networks and social media sites. Remember that what you post will be viewed and archived permanently online once you hit the “publish” button. On sites where you publicize your school affiliation, make sure that your profile adheres to established criteria.

Adapted from suggestions posted here:

11.                Use of networks not owned and maintained by the school, such as those provided by cell phone companies and other accessible wifi networks whose signals originate off-campus, are subject to the same acceptable use policies when accessed at school.  Users accessing these networks while at school or for school purposes must abide by these policies while using the internet to search for content, communicate with others, or publish content. 

We need a policy that addresses district and student liability when accessing the internet on non-school networks while at school.  I have not been able to find any in existence yet so we would have to start from scratch.  At minimum it should include language similar to this.



B.              A student or employee engaging in the foregoing unacceptable uses of the Internet when off school district premises also may be in violation of this policy as well as other school district policies.  Examples of such violations are, but are not limited to, situations where the school district system is compromised or if a school district employee or student is negatively impacted.  If the school district receives a report of an unacceptable use originating from a non-school computer or resource, the school district may investigate such reports to the best of its ability.  Students or employees may be subject to disciplinary action for such conduct, including, but not limited to, suspension or cancellation of the use or access to the school district computer system and the Internet and discipline under other appropriate school district policies, including suspension, expulsion, exclusion, or termination of employment.


C.              If a user inadvertently accesses unacceptable materials or an unacceptable Internet site, the user shall immediately disclose the inadvertent access to an appropriate school district official.  In the case of a school district employee, the immediate disclosure shall be to the employee’s immediate supervisor and/or the building administrator.  This disclosure may serve as a defense against an allegation that the user has intentionally violated this policy.  In certain rare instances, a user also may access otherwise unacceptable materials if necessary to complete an assignment and if done with the prior approval of and with appropriate guidance from the appropriate teacher or, in the case of a school district employee, the building administrator.


VI.              FILTER


A.              With respect to any of its computers with Internet access, the School District will monitor the online activities of minors and employ technology protection measures during any use of such computers by minors and adults.  The technology protection measures utilized will block or filter Internet access to any visual depictions that are:


1.              Obscene

This needs definition – without definition interpretation is wide open.



2.              Child pornography; or


3.              Harmful to minors.


B.              The term “harmful to minors” means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that:


1.              Taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion; or


2.              Depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and


3.              Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.


C.              An administrator, supervisor or other person authorized by the Superintendent may disable the technology protection measure, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.





Use of the school district computer system and use of the Internet shall be consistent with school district policies and the mission of the school district.




A.              By authorizing use of the school district system, the school district does not relinquish control over materials on the system or contained in files on the system.  Users should expect only limited privacy in the contents of personal files on the school district system.


B.              Routine maintenance and monitoring of the school district system may lead to a discovery that a user has violated this policy, another school district policy, or the law.


C.              An individual investigation or search will be conducted if school authorities have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover a violation of law or school district policy.


D.              Parents have the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their child’s files and e-mail files.  Parents have the right to request the termination of their child’s individual account at any time.


E.              School district employees should be aware that the school district retains the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their files and e-mail files.  In addition, school district employees should be aware that data and other materials in files maintained on the school district system may be subject to review, disclosure or discovery under Minn. Stat. Ch. 13 ( the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act).


F.              The school district will cooperate fully with local, state and federal authorities in any investigation concerning or related to any illegal activities or activities not in compliance with school district policies conducted through the school district system.




A.              The proper use of the Internet, and the educational value to be gained from proper Internet use, is the joint responsibility of students, parents and employees of the school district.


B.              This policy requires the permission of and supervision by the school’s designated professional staff before a student may use a school account or resource to access the Internet.


C.              The Internet Use Agreement form for students must be read and signed by the user, the parent or guardian, and the supervising teacher.  The Internet Use Agreement form for employees must be signed by the employee.  The form must then be filed at the school office.  As supervising teachers change, the agreement signed by the new teacher shall be attached to the original agreement.




Use of the school district system is at the user’s own risk.  The system is provided on an “as is, as available” basis.  The school district will not be responsible for any damage users may suffer, including, but not limited to, loss, damage or unavailability of data stored on school district diskettes, tapes, hard drives or servers, or for delays or changes in or interruptions of service or misdeliveries or nondeliveries of information or materials, regardless of the cause. The school district is not responsible for the accuracy or quality of any advice or information obtained through or stored on the school district system.  The school district will not be responsible for financial obligations arising through unauthorized use of the school district system or the Internet.




A.              All users shall be notified of the school district policies relating to Internet use.


B.              This notification shall include the following:


1.              Notification that Internet use is subject to compliance with school district policies.


2.              Disclaimers limiting the school district’s liability relative to:


a.              Information stored on school district diskettes, hard drives or servers.


b.              Information retrieved through school district computers, networks or online resources.


c.              Personal property used to access school district computers, networks or online resources.

Does this include personal computers at home?  Can the school really accept liability for anything done on a computer outside our school used to access our network?  I am not sure we want this in here.  By this wording we accept liability for anything anyone who has ever accessed our school website has done on their computer.  Since our website is viewable by anyone we are accepting liability for anything anyone might do on their home computers and cellphones.


d.              Unauthorized financial obligations resulting from use of school district resources/accounts to access the Internet.


3.              A description of the privacy rights and limitations of school sponsored/managed Internet accounts.


4.              Notification that, even though the school district may use technical means to limit student Internet access, these limits do not provide a foolproof means for enforcing the provisions of this acceptable use policy.


5.              Notification that goods and services can be purchased over the Internet that could potentially result in unwanted financial obligations and that any financial obligation incurred by a student through the Internet is the sole responsibility of the student and/or the student’s parents.


6.              Notification that the collection, creation, reception, maintenance and dissemination of data via the Internet, including electronic communications, is governed by Policy 406, Public and Private Personnel Data, and Policy 515, Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records.


7.              Notification that, should the user violate the school district’s acceptable use policy, the user’s access privileges may be revoked, school disciplinary action may be taken and/or appropriate legal action may be taken.


8.              Notification that all provisions of the acceptable use policy are subordinate to local, state and federal laws.




A.              Outside of school, parents bear responsibility for the same guidance of Internet use as they exercise with information sources such as television, telephones, radio, movies and other possibly offensive media.  Parents are responsible for monitoring their student’s use of the school district system and of the Internet if the student is accessing the school district system from home or a remote location.


B.              Parents will be notified that their students will be using school district resources/accounts to access the Internet and that the school district will provide parents the option to request alternative activities not requiring Internet access.  This notification should include:


1.              A copy of the user notification form provided to the student user.


2.              A description of parent/guardian responsibilities.


3.              A notification that the parents have the option to request alternative educational activities not requiring Internet access and the material to exercise this option.


4.              A statement that the Internet Use Agreement must be signed by the user, the parent or guardian, and the supervising teacher prior to use by the student.


5.              A statement that the school district’s acceptable use policy is available for parental review.




A.              The school district administration may develop appropriate user notification forms, guidelines and procedures necessary to implement this policy for submission to the school board for approval.  Upon approval by the school board, such guidelines, forms and procedures shall be an addendum to this policy.


B.              The administration shall revise the user notifications, including student and parent notifications, if necessary, to reflect the adoption of these guidelines and procedures.


C.              The school district Internet policies and procedures are available for review by all parents, guardians, staff and members of the community.


D.              Because of the rapid changes in the development of the Internet, the school board shall conduct an annual review of this policy.



Legal References:              15 U.S.C. § 6501 et seq. (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. (Copyrights)

20 U.S.C. § 6751 et seq. (Enhancing Education through Technology Act of 2001)

47 U.S.C. § 254 (Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 (CIPA))

47 C.F.R. § 54.520 (FCC rules implementing CIPA)

Minn. Stat. § 125B.15 (Internet Access for Students)

Minn. Stat. § 125B.26 (Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Act)

Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503, 89 S.Ct. 733, 21 L.Ed.2d 731 (1969)

United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194, 123 S.Ct. 2297, 56 L.Ed.2d 221 (2003)

Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist., 412 F.Supp. 2d 502 (2006)

J.S. v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist., 807 A.2d 847 (Pa. 2002)


Cross References:              MSBA/MASA Model Policy 403 (Discipline, Suspension, and Dismissal of School District Employees)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 406 (Public and Private Personnel Data)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 505 (Distribution of Nonschool-Sponsored Materials on School Premises by Students and Employees)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 506 (Student Discipline)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 515 (Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 519 (Interviews of Students by Outside Agencies)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 521 (Student Disability Nondiscrimination)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 522 (Student Sex Nondiscrimination)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 603 (Curriculum Development)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 604 (Instructional Curriculum)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 606 (Textbooks and Instructional Materials)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 806 (Crisis Management Policy)

MSBA/MASA Model Policy 904 (Distribution of Materials on School District Property by Nonschool Persons)



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