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Drummond and Woodsum’s, Technology Policy and the Law Workshop

This conference by the attorneys at Drummond and Woodsum was excellent.  They are always well prepared and informative, providing a balanced overview of a sometimes dry topic in an engaging manner.

The focus of this workshop was technology policies for schools as they relate to computers and electronic devices.  There was a lot of discussion about electronic devices, and they encourage schools to stop referencing computers, and begin to use this more general term.  Its a subtle difference, but an important one as the technology advances faster than the laws and policies.

Matt Frey-Davis and I will provide a brief overview of several sub-topics from the day.  Feel free to comment and ask questions at the bottom of our posts.

Childrens Internet Protection Act II
CIPA II has recently been revised and compliance with the terms of this law are required for school departments to receive some Federal reimbursements.  Schools must have technology based protections, such as a filter, and they must certify that they enforce an ongoing policy of Internet safety.  This would include the ability to monitor activities to protect students from materials that are obscene, harmful to minors, and/or child pornography.

So what is, “harmful to minors?” Anything that has a prurient interest in nudity, sex or excretion, portrays actual or simulated secual act or contact, lewd exhibition of genitals, or that, taken as a whole lacks serious literary or artistic intent.

Of particular note to us was a very clear statement by the presenters that schools are not liable for student activity once the computers leave our network and filter.  They suggest that schools consider a system to monitor or filter student activity outside the school network, but were clear that schools are not legally responsible when the student uses other networks outside the school.  As a community, RSU1 may decide that this is a step that we wish to take, but it is not required by law.

Another item that is newly revised under CIPA II is an ongoing plan to educate students about safe computing and Internet use.  Efforts are ongoing in all of our schools to help students use technology safely and responsibly, but we will be reviewing these programs to improve the effectiveness of our instruction, and to be certain that all students receive instruction covering the same materials- even if the delivery varies from school to school.

If you are interested in learning more about safe computing practices for students, I encourage you to take a look at the curriculum and resources from Common Sense Media.  This nfp offers an entire program to schools, organized by grade span, at no cost.

View the curriculum and resource materials here.


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