The Master Plan for Education Technology calls for Internet access, electronic mail, and other instructional services to be available through the Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS), which includes voice, video, and data access. Accordingly, strategies for managing access and tools to help education entities (KDE and K-12 schools) implement those strategies have been identified and are continually refined.
In 1998, The Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 230 which required the use of filtering software in every district and school. The purpose of filtering software is to identify and selectively prevent objectionable material from entering the school through the data network. The determination of what constitutes "objectionable" material is a local decision.
1998 Kentucky Senate Bill 230 states:
"Each local school district shall establish a policy regarding student Internet access that shall include, but not be limited to, parental consent for student Internet use, teacher supervision of student computer use, and auditing procedures to determine whether education technology is being used for the purpose of accessing sexually explicit or other objectionable material."
Filtering software is not 100% effective; while filters make it more difficult for objectionable material to be received or accessed; filters are not a solution in themselves. For this reason, the Kentucky Department of Education first disseminated Acceptable Use Policy Guidelines to local districts in 1995. Acceptable use policies guide access to information in electronic media, to information technology, and to electronic networks. The purposes of such policies are: to educate; to provide protection against violations of privacy; to prevent misuse of public resources; to protect against inappropriate or destructive behaviors which occur as a result of access to electronic information resources; and, to ensure that technology resources provided through KETS are dedicated to improving student achievement and school administration. These policies also define school district parameters for acceptable use and specify the disciplinary measures to which those who violate the policy are subject. The 1995 Guidelines were issued with strong recommendation that every district adopt an acceptable use policy and require a user agreement form to comply with the policy signed by staff, faculty, students, and parents. While filters provide a technology-based solution, acceptable use policies address the human dimension of information access issues.
Since 1995, the majority of school districts have adopted acceptable use policies. In 1997, the Department issued recommendations for filtering technology which included a provision that the product(s) selected be capable of logging the time, date, and duration of transactions to the originating user as well as to the final destination.
Senate Bill 230, enacted during the 1998 General Assembly, requires the Kentucky Board of Education to promulgate administrative regulations to prevent sexually explicit material from being transmitted via education technology systems; directs each local school district and school to use the latest available filtering technology to ensure that sexually explicit material is not made available to students; requires the Department of Education to make filtering technology available to every school without cost; and, requires each local school district to establish a policy regarding employee and student Internet access.
The resulting administrative regulation, 701 KAR 5:120, fulfills the requirements of 1998 Senate Bill 230. At the school district level, the regulation requires that each school district adopt and implement an acceptable use policy applicable to every school which conforms to the guidelines issued by the Department; specifies school district responsibilities for implementing and maintaining filtering capabilities in every school; and prohibits the use of electronic mail systems which do not meet state standards.
At the state department level, 1998 SB 230 requires that the Department make filtering technology available to each school at no cost. To comply with this provision, the Department is furnishing software capable of content filtering to school districts to address the filtering needs of every school. The software is purchased with state funds. This software allows schools to block access to specific web site addresses and to "chat room" facilities on the Internet, allows schools to filter out sites based on certain terms, and keeps a detailed log of user activity. In addition, this software has significant instructional value because it saves most frequently requested web sites locally and also allows teachers to reserve and download web sites in advance of class time (commonly referred to as “caching”). These features mean that network response time is increased by 50-70%, web sites are available when the teacher needs them even if the school's network connection is temporarily lost, and students are more likely to find appropriate information the first time they search.
In addition to objectionable material which may reach employees and students through web sites, online chat groups, and electronic mail, sexually explicit material is frequently disseminated through "Usenet" groups on the Internet. Usenet groups are almost exclusively devoted to material which is generally agreed to be inappropriate for K12 sites. For this reason and without school district objection, the Department has always blocked Usenet addresses from coming into the state through KETS and will continue to do so.
The Department provides technical assistance to school districts to support implementation of the state-provided proxy server software, provides professional development activities on implementation of acceptable use policies, and provides information on deterring and detecting inappropriate use.
Compliance with the provisions of 1998 Senate Bill 230 is a condition of school district participation in the offers of assistance process for state education technology funds. Additionally, with the signing of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) into law on December 21, 2000, participation in both the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT Title IID) programs resulted in further AUP requirements. School district authorities must certify that they are enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes measures to block or filter Internet access for both minors and adults to certain visual depictions. The relevant authority with responsibility for administration of the school/district must certify the status of its compliance for the purpose of CIPA.
Requirements of CIPA
CIPA requirements include the following three items:
Technology Protection Measure
A technology protection measure is a specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access. It must protect against access by adults and minors to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or — with respect to use of computers with Internet access by minors — harmful to minors. It may be disabled for adults engaged in bona fide research or other lawful purposes. For school use, the policy must also include monitoring the online activities of minors.
Internet Safety Policy
- The Internet safety policy must address the following issues:
- 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 hacking and other unlawful activities by minors online.
- Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors.
- Measures designed to restrict minors’ access to materials harmful to minors.
Public Notice and Hearing
The authority with responsibility for administration of the school/district must provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing to address a proposed technology protection measure and Internet safety policy.
Three sections follow:
Best Practices for Appropriate use of Technology – details at a minimum what employees and students should and should not do as well as the guidance of Digital Citizenship;
Acceptable Use Policy Guidelines - provides general direction and guidance to districts for the formulation, implementation and maintenance of Acceptable Use Policies;
Resources (right sidebar) - an annotated list of web sites and other information related to acceptable use policies, helpful information for parents, and Internet filtering.
BEST PRACTICES FOR APPROPRIATE USE OF TECHNOLOGY
ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY CONSIDERATIONS FOR DISTRICTS