POLICY 5160: INTERNET ACCEPTABLE USE AND SAFETY POLICY

Revised: April 8, 2019

I. PURPOSE

This policy sets forth policies and guidelines for access to the school district computer system and acceptable and safe use of the Internet, including electronic communications.

II. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY

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 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 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.

III. LIMITED EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE

  1. 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.
  2. Core Curriculum in some academic disciplines are digital-only in nature and there may not be a paper version of the curriculum available.

IV. USE OF SYSTEM IS A PRIVILEGE

The use of the school district computer system and access to the Internet is a privilege, not a right. 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.

V. UNACCEPTABLE USES

  1. The following uses of the school district system and Internet resources or accounts are considered unacceptable:
    1. Users will not use the school district system to access, review, upload, download, store, print, post, receive, transmit or distribute:
      1. pornographic, obscene or sexually explicit material or other visual depictions that are harmful to minors;
      2. obscene, abusive, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening, disrespectful, or sexually explicit language;
      3. materials that use language or images that are inappropriate in the education setting or disruptive to the educational process;
      4. information or materials that could cause damage or danger of disruption to the educational process;
      5. 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 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 personally identifiable information, 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
    7. Users may be asked to provide account information and passwords to 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.
    10. Users will not use the school district system to engage in bullying or cyberbullying in violation of the school district’s Bullying Prohibition Policy (Policy 5140). This prohibition includes using any technology or other electronic communication off school premises to the extent that student learning or the school environment is substantially and materially disrupted.
  2. A student or employee engaging in any of the foregoing unacceptable uses of the Internet originating from a district owned computer or resource when off school district premises and without the use of the school district system also may be in violation of this policy as well as other school district policies. In situations when the school district receives a report of an unacceptable use originating from a district owned computer or resource, the school district shall 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.
  3. 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

  1. With respect to any of its computers with Internet access, the School District, based on the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), 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 be designed to block or filter, based on current filtering rules and sites, Internet access to any visual depictions that are:
    1. Obscene;
    2. Child pornography;
    3. Violence; or
    4. Harmful to minors.
  2. 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.
  3. With respect to any of its computer with internet access, the School District will monitor the online activities of staff and authorized individuals that utilize the school district computer system. The technology protections measures utilized will be designed to block or filter, based on current filtering rules and sites, internet access to any visual depictions that are:
    1. Obscene;
    2. Child pornography;
    3. Violence; or
    4. Harmful to minors.
  4. Content filtering is based on compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and in combination with Policy 5160 Section III Limited Educational Purpose.
  5. 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.
  6. The school district will educate students through a digital citizenship curriculum about appropriate online behavior including interactions with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response.

VII. CONSISTENCY WITH OTHER SCHOOL POLICIES

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.

VIII. LIMITED EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY

  1. 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 use of district technology tools and digital curriculum.
  2. The school district computer system, e-mail accounts, device and applications are owned by the Westonka Public Schools and the school district has the right to access any of the information used through the mediums provided through the district at any time when it is felt that illegal or otherwise inappropriate use of technology is occurring. Improper use of district technology will result in, loss of school district computer system/internet privileges, fines, suspension, or expulsion as deemed appropriate. System monitoring will be conducted when appropriate in order to optimize system performance and availability.
  3. 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.
  4. Parents have the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their child’s files and e-mail files
  5. 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).
  6. The Westonka Public Schools 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.

IX. INTERNET USE AGREEMENT

  1. 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.
  2. Internet use 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.

X. LIMITATION ON SCHOOL DISTRICT LIABILITY

Use of the Westonka Public Schools’ 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 mis-deliveries 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.

XI. USER NOTIFICATION

  1. Through student and employee handbooks, all users shall be notified of the school district policies relating to Internet use.
  2. 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:
      1. Information stored on school district hard drives or servers.
      2. Information retrieved through school district computers, networks or online resources.
      3. Personal property used to access school district computers, networks or online resources.
      4. 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 #2610, Public and Private Personnel Data, and Policy #5125, 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.

XII. PARENTS' RESPONSIBILITY; NOTIFICATION OF STUDENT INTERNET USE

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

XIII. IMPLEMENTATION; POLICY REVIEW

  1. 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.
  2. The administration shall revise the user notifications, including student and parent notifications, if necessary, to reflect the adoption of these guidelines and procedures.
  3. 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)
  • 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. § 121A.031 (School Student Bullying Policy)
  • Minn. Stat. §§ 125B.15 (Internet Access for Students)
  • Minn. Stat. § 125B.26 (Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid)
  • 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)
  • Doninger v. Niehoff, 527 F.3d 41 (2nd Cir. 2008)
  • R.S. v. Minnewaska Area Sch. Dist. No. 2149, No. 12-588, 2012 WL 3870868 (D. Minn. 2012)
  • Tatro v. Univ. of Minnesota, 800 N.W.2d 811 (Minn. App. 2011), aff’d on other grounds 816 N.W.2d 509 (Minn. 2012)
  • S.J.W. v. Lee’s Summit R-7 Sch. Dist., 696 F.3d 771 (8th Cir. 2012)
  • Kowalski v. Berkeley County Sch., 652 F.3d 656 (4th Cir. 2011)
  • Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc. v. Camdenton R-III Sch. Dist., 853 F.Supp.2d 888 (W.D. Mo. 2012)
  • M.T. v. Cent. York Sch. Dist., 937 A.2d 538 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007)
  • Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist., 412 F.Supp. 2d 502 (2006)
  • J.S. v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist., 807 A.2d 847 (Pa. 2002)

Adopted: July 12, 2004