NSCSD to institute Internet safety policy

The North Syracuse Central School District is close to implementing a policy to regulate Internet use in the district.

At its July 6 meeting, the NSCSD Board of Education had its first discussion regarding a proposed Internet safety policy after a presentation by Christopher Nelson, the district's director of instructional technologies.

The policy designates that the district should put in place a filtering device to block entry to media that are obscene, pornographic or harmful to students as defined by the Children's Internet Protection Act, enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2001. It dictates that all use of the district's Internet access must be for legitimate educational purposes, and it prohibits use of the Internet that violates the law, causes harm to others, jeopardizes student and network security or for personal financial gain.

As part of the policy, the district will hold forums at the beginning of each school year to educate students and their families about appropriate Internet behavior, including interacting on social networking sites and in chat rooms.

In order to ensure proper use by students, teachers and other staff are tasked with monitoring student computer use. They will ensure that students don't access sites that are adult or sexually explicit or that provide information on criminal skills, hacking, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, hate speech, violence or weapons. Students will also be prohibited from visiting un-moderated chat rooms using district access.

The policy is in accordance with CIPA, which requires a policy addressing the following:

' 'Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;

' 'The safety and security of minors while using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;

' 'Unauthorized access, including hacking, and other unlawful activities of minors online;

' 'Unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of personal information; and

' 'Restricting minors' access to materials harmful to them.

The policy will ensure that the NSCSD continues to receive discounts offered by the federal E-rate program, which helps schools and libraries obtain access to state-of-the-art services and technologies at discounted rates.

The board will revisit the policy at their July 20 meeting. If approved, the policy will be implemented in time for the 2009-10 school year.

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