New policy to catch up with Dist. 728 technology

New document, once approved, will govern use by both students and staff

by Jim Boyle

Elk River Star News


The Elk River Area School District has crafted a draft policy to govern the responsible use of the School District’s technology, its network and devices students and staff bring from home.

The Network Responsible Use and Safety for Staff Policy ushers in a greater acceptance for students bringing in to school devices to be used for educational purposes.

With the additional freedom will come greater definition of the boundaries that students and staff must not cross or face disciplinary action.

The policy, once approved, will replace two existing policies — an Internet safety policy for students and an outdated policy that addressed staff well before the proliferation of Internet and technology use in the district.

The Elk River Area School Board had completed its second official read of the proposed document on Sept. 9, and there is one more to go before it’s approved.

Joe Samek, the manager of district technology, said district officials wanted a policy that more clearly articulated acceptable use.

“This is a big document and a big policy,” said Jane Bunting, the chairwoman of the Elk River Area School Board. “We are in need of it.”

Students will still be very limited in what they do while using the district’s network, and nothing that will interfere with the instructional environment will be allowed.

Samek addressed the Elk River Area School Board during the first read and said there’s no difference between the use of phone or personal device compared to the district’s own hardware.

“No matter the device, if it’s on our network (the same rules apply),” Samek said.

District 728 staff and teachers who use mobile  technology will have greater freedom when not on school grounds, but there are still limits, Samek said.

“The reality in today’s work and learning environment, there is going to be downtime where (an employee) might surf craigslist or eBay while on break at work or at home. But there’s still acceptable versus nonacceptable”

Devices can be used at home as long as they don’t cross that line, Samek said.

Students and staff will be trained on the new policy once it is approved.

“A lot of it’s common sense,” Samek said.

Bunting said technology is going to be here to stay, and the policy is needed.

“We just want to make sure there’s teeth when we need them,” she said.