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New Internet policy complies with federal requirements

5/22/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Hays USD 489 students returning to school in the fall will see a revised Internet safety policy.

The board of education approved the revision earlier this month.

While the district had an acceptable-use agreement before, the update satisfies federal requirements, said Todd Bryant, technology coordinator.

Officially taking effect in July, it's necessary for the district to continue to receive e-rate funding, he said.

It applies to students, staff and anyone accessing the district network or computer systems.

Bryant said he started with the existing policy, checked out other districts' policies and the new legal requirements. He also got input from building principals and technicians and members of the technology committee.

The previous policy addressed what users could and could not do, Bryant said.

That's included in the new policy, as well as issues such as cyber bullying.

Among the list of prohibited activities are hacking, using profanity, obscenity, discriminatory and other inappropriate language, accessing social network sites and chat rooms, except those approved by administration as educationally appropriate.

Internet filtering, which Hays schools have, also is required.

Language was specific to students in the old policy, but now it's directed to students and staff.

The new policy outlines the staff's responsibility in educating students' online behavior at social websites and other electronic communications, Bryant said.

Both parents and students in grades K-12 usually are asked to sign a policy form.

"Students sign so they know they're responsible," Bryant said. "It adds accountability."

Computer teachers in the elementary schools will break it down in terms younger students will understand, he said.

It will be one of the screens that comes up when parents are enrolling children.

Bryant also is planning to put it on the district website under technology.