A Resource and Promising Practices Guide for School Administrators & Faculty
SECTION VII: INTERNET SAFETY and ACCEPTABLE USE POLICIES (AUP)
Internet safety refers to the countless issues facing students due to the widespread use of the Internet, including the need to keep children and all users safe while online. Incidents of harassment, discrimination and/or bullying can begin or spread online (see Section VIII of this document for a discussion of cyberbullying). Therefore, it is recommended that schools and districts examine policies to ensure safe and responsible Internet use by students and teachers.
In accordance with Education Law §814 relating to courses of study on Internet Safety, the State Education Department (NYSED) provides assistance and resources to schools concerning the safe and responsible use of the Internet. Under both the federal and state law, school districts are required to teach students about safe and responsible use of the Internet. One such resource is a rubric to assist school administrators and educators with reviewing their instructional programs with a focus on Internet safety.
An AUP serves as the guideline for the use of Internet, web-based products, and computer access provided by school districts. The AUP is a written agreement outlining the terms and conditions for the use of technology-based devices maintained by schools and may include provisions related to personal technology-based devices used during school hours on school property.
It is strongly suggested that administrators consult their school attorney with specific questions or concerns related to Internet safety and AUP.
For more information and guidance on Internet use at school and the AUP, please see:
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
CIPA is the primary federal law concerning access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers (http://fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/cipa.html). According to the Federal Communications Commission, requirements of this law include:
- Schools and libraries subject to CIPA may not receive the discounts offered by the E-rate program unless they certify that they have an internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. The protection measures must block or filter internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors). Before adopting such an internet safety policy, schools and libraries must provide reasonable notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposal.
- Schools subject to CIPA are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors.
- Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an internet safety policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
Internet Safety Policies
In light of these requirements, a school district should revisit its policy regarding the use of social networking web sites and Instant Messaging Centers. A decision needs to be made as to whether the school district supports the use of these sites to encourage communication between staff, students, and persons in parental relation to students. If it encourages the use of these sites for such communications, it is wise to establish parameters to ensure that staff, students, and persons in parental relation to students are not placed at risk. There are many resources available for teaching internet safety in your school or district, including free lesson plans.