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Considering Revising Internet Use Policy

The Policy on Computer Network and Internet Acceptable Use for Students and Staff is being reviewed by the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Education. Following much discussion and research, a policy revision is being considered. A first reading was introduced at the October school board meeting.

The revision addresses the following: the ever-evolving ways in which technology is used to work and communicate and its prevalence in everyday lives (while still recognizing the need to protect the safety of the district’s students through compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Children’s Internet Protection ACT (CIPA); and as well,  the need to protect the integrity of the district’s computer network.

To that end, the policy changes include: enabling the extension of the district-issued email accounts to students; customize filtering based on grade level; permit read-only utilization of Facebook; and allow staff personal use of the district network, before and after the regular school day.

In addition, the Wireless VLAN Authorization Form has been revised to notify staff that use personal electronic devices connected by FLAN to the district network that information about their device may be logged.

Introducing the policy, Board of Education President Barbara Berkowitz noted how much work had gone into this revision, extensive work by Marc Epstein, district technology director. The revision had been put on “hold” while controversial student/school district issues were researched and discussed. Students had complained about limited available research due to filters in the system. To that end, the proposal includes a lowered filter level for high school students.

Berkowitz noted that “every policy is not written in stone” and told the students present that “you can come to the board.”

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan emphasized that both North High School and South High School students had worked together on this project.

If the proposed policy revision is ultimately adopted, it would begin with the philosophy: “It is the philosophy of the Great Neck Public Schools that the integration of technology with the curriculum is an essential part of instruction. At the same time, there is an inherent responsibility on the part of users to conduct themselves in an appropriate and considerate manner when using the medium. The Internet contains a rich array of education contents as well as information that is illegal or inappropriate for children. Therefore, Internet resources are filtered and student use is monitored and supervised by staff. However, the security, accuracy and quality of information that is available through our network cannot be guaranteed. While the guidelines that follow have been developed to ensure responsible use of our computer network and the Internet, we respect each family’s right to deny independent Internet use by their children in school.”

The policy also includes sections on: parent/guardian option; Internet filtering system; personal security issues; user guidelines; ethical and legal considerations; consequences of violations; and staff responsibilities.

This proposed policy revision was heard for the first time, so no action was taken. A new policy, revised policy or a policy deletion must be heard in public session at least three times before adoption is considered.