The use of technology in Weston Public Schools is governed by federal laws including:

 

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

  • Children younger than 13 cannot be required to give out more information “than is reasonably necessary” to participate in a site’s activities.
  • Web site operators must obtain parental permission to collect personal information from children younger than 13.
  • Parents have the right to know what personal information is being collected and how it will be used.
  • Parents have the right to review any information collected, determine whom it can be given to, and/or have the information deleted.
  • Parental permission must be verifiable.

IN SUMMARY:

COPPA puts special restrictions on software companies about the information they can collect about students under 13. So, students under 13 can’t make their own accounts, teachers have to make the accounts for them. In making the accounts, teachers need to be aware of their responsibility under FERPA and seek a signed online consent form from each students’ Parent/Guardian.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless, for reasons such as great distance, it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records. Schools may charge a fee for copies.

Parents or eligible students have the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to the following parties or under the following conditions (34 CFR § 99.31):

  • School officials with legitimate educational interest;
  • Other schools to which a student is transferring;
  • Specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes;
  • Appropriate parties in connection with financial aid to a student;
  • Organizations conducting certain studies for or on behalf of the school;
  • Accrediting organizations;
  • To comply with a judicial order or lawfully issued subpoena; 
  • Appropriate officials in cases of health and safety emergencies; and
  • State and local authorities, within a juvenile justice system, pursuant to specific State law.

Schools may disclose, without consent, “directory” information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Schools must notify parents and eligible students annually of their rights under FERPA. The actual means of notification (special letter, inclusion in a PTA bulletin, student handbook, or newspaper article) is left to the discretion of each school.

IN SUMMARY:

FERPA requires that schools have written permission from the parent or guardian in order to release any information from a student’s education record. So the most important thing is that, with some very specific exceptions, you shouldn’t be sharing student information with apps and websites without parent permission.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet. CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA and provided updates to those rules in 2011.

What CIPA requires

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 this 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 have two additional certification requirements: 1) their Internet safety policies must include monitoring the online activities of minors; and 2) as required by the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, they must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response.

Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing:

  • Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
  • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;
  • Unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
  • Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
  • Measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

Schools and libraries must certify they are in compliance with CIPA before they can receive E-rate funding.

  • CIPA does not apply to schools and libraries receiving discounts only for telecommunications service only;
  • An authorized person may disable the blocking or filtering measure during use by an adult to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.
  • CIPA does not require the tracking of Internet use by minors or adults.

IN SUMMARY:

CIPA requires districts to put measures in place to filter Internet access and other measures to protect students.