School Board Policy 524 -
Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use Policy

Adopted: September 8, 1997
Revised: February 28, 2000
Revised: December 10, 2001
Revised: May 9, 2011
Revised: January 13, 2014
Revised: February 8, 2016
Revised: March 5, 2018
Revised: April 13, 2020
Revised: March 1, 2021
Revised: January 10, 2022

I. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to set forth policies and guidelines for access to the school district computer system and acceptable and safe use of the internet, including electronic communications.

II.  Definitions

A.  The term "users" refers to any person using the district's electronic technologies.

B.  The term "internet" refers to an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.

C.  The term "network" refers to the district's intranet or servers, which restricts access to authorized users, which may include students, staff, parents, contractors, vendors and volunteers.

D.  The term 'electronic technologies" refers to, but is not limited to, computers and peripherals, printers, telephones, and the applications they support and/or access.

E.  The term "learning management system (LMS)" refers to a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning education supporting any courses or training programs. 

III. General Statement of Policy 

In making decisions regarding student and employee access to the school district computer system and the internet, including electronic communications, the school district considers its own stated educational mission, goals, and objectives. The goal in providing these resources is to facilitate resource sharing, innovation and communication and to support the mission of the district in ensuring that our students develop a love of learning, excel academically, are inspired to realize their dreams and become engaged citizens with a global understanding. The school district expects that faculty will blend thoughtful use of the school district computer system and the Internet throughout the curriculum and will provide guidance and instruction to students in their use.

IV. Limited Educational Purpose

The school district is providing students and employees with access to the school district electronic technologies, which includes internet access. It is not the purpose of district electronic technologies to provide students and employees with unlimited access to the internet or to create a limited public forum for the discussion of issues. Access to district electronic technologies is limited to educational purposes, which includes use of district electronic technologies for classroom activities, educational research, professional or career development activities, and for school administration. Users are expected to use district electronic technologies to further educational and professional goals consistent with the mission of the school district and school policies. Uses which might be acceptable on a user’s private personal account on another system may not be acceptable on this limited-purpose network.

V. Use of District Electronic Technologies and the Internet is a Privilege 

The use of the district electronic technologies and access to use of the internet is a privilege, not a right. Acceptable use of the district’s electronic technologies is the responsibility of the user. The school district has the right to monitor its district electronic technologies and enforce this policy. Depending on the nature and degree of the violation and the number of previous violations, unacceptable use of the district electronic technologies or the internet may result in one or more of the following consequences: suspension or cancellation of use or access privileges; payments for damages and repairs; discipline under other appropriate school district policies, including suspension, expulsion, exclusion, or termination of employment; or civil or criminal liability under other applicable laws.

VI. Unacceptable Uses

A. Users are responsible for anything set on the network with their name or IP address on it. Users shall not engage in any activity that disrupts or hinders the performance of the district’s electronic technologies. While not an exhaustive list, the following uses of the district’s electronic technologies are considered unacceptable:

1. Users will not use the district electronic technologies to access, review, upload, download, store, print, post, receive, transmit, or distribute:

a. pornographic, obscene, or sexually explicit material or other visual depictions that are deemed by the district to be inappropriate and/or otherwise harmful to minors;

b. obscene, abusive, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening, disrespectful, or sexually explicit language;

c. materials that use language or images that are inappropriate in the education setting or disruptive to the educational process;

d. information or materials that could cause damage or danger of disruption to the educational process;

e. materials that use language or images that advocate violence or discrimination toward other people (hate literature) or that may constitute harassment or discrimination.

2. Personal use of district electronic technologies must be appropriately limited, consistent with provisions in this and other district policies, and shall not interfere with school duties or responsibilities.

3. Users will not use the district electronic technologies to knowingly or recklessly post, transmit, or distribute false or defamatory information about a person or organization, or to harass another person, use language that is abusive, hostile, demeaning, disrespectful or threatening toward another person, or to engage in personal attacks, including prejudicial or discriminatory attacks.

4. Users will not use the district electronic technologies to engage in any illegal act or violate any local, state, or federal statute or law.

5. Users will not use the district electronic technologies to vandalize, damage, or disable the property of another person or organization; will not make deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt equipment, software, or district electronic technologies performance by spreading computer viruses or by any other means; will not tamper with, modify, or change the district electronic technologies software, hardware, or wiring or take any action to violate the school district’s security system; and will not use the district electronic technologies in such a way as to disrupt the use of district electronic technologies by other users.

6. Users will not use the district electronic technologies to gain unauthorized access to information resources or to access another person’s materials, information, or files without permission.

7. Users will not use the district’s electronic technologies to post private information about themselves or another person. This prohibition shall not prevent private information from being posted in the ordinary course of business by school personnel. Private information includes personal contact information about themselves or other persons, or other personally identifiable information including, but not limited to, address, telephone numbers, identification numbers, account numbers, access codes or passwords, labeled photographs, or other information that would make the individual’s identity easily traceable, and will not repost a message that was sent to the user privately without permission of the person who sent the message.

a. This paragraph does not prohibit the posting of employee contact information on school district web pages or communications between employees and other individuals when such communications are made for education-related purposes (e.g., communications with parents or other staff members related to students).

b. Employees creating or posting school-related web pages may include personal contact information about themselves on a web page. However, employees may not post personal contact information or other personally identifiable information about students unless:

(1) such information is classified by the school district as directory information and verification is made that the school district has not received notice from a parent/guardian or eligible student that such information is not to be designated as directory information in accordance with Policy 515; or

(2) such information is not classified by the school district as directory information but written consent for release of the information to be posted has been obtained from a parent/guardian or eligible student in accordance with Policy 515.

In addition, prior to posting any personal contact or personally identifiable information on a school-related webpage, employees shall obtain written approval of the content of the postings from the building administrator.

c.  These prohibitions specifically prohibit a user from utilizing the school district system to post personal information about a user or another individual on social networks, including, but not limited to, social networks such as "Facebook," "Twitter," "Instagram," "Snapchat," "TikTok," "Reddit," and similar websites or applications.

8. Users will not attempt to gain unauthorized access to district electronic technologies or any other system through district electronic technologies, attempt to log in through another person’s account, or use computer accounts, access codes, or network identification other than those assigned to the user. Messages and records on the district electronic technologies may not be encrypted without the permission of appropriate school authorities.

9. Users will not use district electronic technologies to violate copyright laws or usage licensing agreements, or otherwise to use another person’s property without the person’s prior approval or proper citation, including the downloading or exchanging of pirated software or copying software to or from any school computer, and will not plagiarize works on the Internet.

10. Users will not use district electronic technologies for conducting business, for unauthorized commercial purposes, for promotion of political views or social agendas, including political campaigning, or for financial gain unrelated to the mission of the school district. Users will not use district electronic technologies to offer or provide goods or services or for product advertisement. Users will not use district electronic technologies to purchase goods or services for personal use without authorization from the appropriate school district official.

11. Students in the course of completing assignments, projects, and exams for class, including assignments, projects, and exams involving the use of collaborative and social networking tools on the internet, are expected to abide by the Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use Policy and policies and procedures regarding student discipline, student code of conduct, bullying prevention, copyright and plagiarism.

B. The school district has a special interest in regulating off-campus speech that materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others. Users engaging in the foregoing unacceptable uses of the internet when off school district premises also may be in violation of this policy as well as other school district policies. Examples of such violations may include, but are not limited to, serious or severe bullying or harassment targeting particular individuals, threats aimed at teachers or other students, failure to follow rules concerning lessons, the writing of papers, the use of computers, or participation in other online school activities, and breaches of school security devices. If the school district receives a report of an unacceptable use originating from a non-school computer or resource, the school district may investigate such reports to the best of its ability. Students or employees may be subject to disciplinary action for such conduct, including, but not limited to, suspension or cancellation of the use or access to the school district electronic technologies and the internet and discipline under other appropriate school district policies, including suspension, expulsion, exclusion, or termination of employment.

C. If a user inadvertently accesses unacceptable materials or an unacceptable Internet site, the user shall immediately disclose the inadvertent access to an appropriate school district official. In the case of a school district employee, the immediate disclosure shall be to the employee’s immediate supervisor and/or the building administrator. In certain rare instances, a user may access otherwise unacceptable materials if necessary to complete an assignment and if done with the prior approval of and with appropriate guidance from the appropriate teacher or, in the case of a school district employee, the building administrator.

VII. Filter

A. With respect to any of its computers with Internet access, the school district will monitor the online activities of minors and adults and employ technology protection measures during any use of such computers by minors and adults. The technology protection measures utilized will block or filter internet access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, violent or harmful to minors:

B. The term “harmful to minors” means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that:

1. Taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion; or

2. Depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and

3. Taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.

C. Software filtering technology shall be narrowly tailored and shall not discriminate based on viewpoint.

D.  Access to chat rooms, discussion boards, school-issued email and other forms of direct electronic communications are limited to applications approved by the district and/or hosted within the district domain for the safety and security of minors. 

E. An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the Superintendent may disable the technology protection measure, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.

F. The school district will educate students about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.

VIII. Consistency With Other School Policies

A. Use of the school district electronic technologies and use of the internet shall be consistent with school district policies and the mission of the school district.

B. Students who are permitted to bring their own electronic devices to school will comply with school-specific guidelines for the use of personal electronic devices in school.

IX. No Expectation of Privacy

A. By authorizing use of district electronic technologies, the school district does not relinquish control over materials stored or transmitted on district electronic technologies files. Users should expect no privacy in the contents of files on district electronic technologies.

B. Routine maintenance and monitoring of district electronic technologies may lead to a discovery that a user has violated this policy, another School District policy, or the law.

C. An investigation or search will be conducted if school authorities have a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover a violation of law or school district policy.

D. Parents/guardians may have the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their child’s files and email files in accordance with the school district's Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records Policy. Parents/guardians have the right to request the termination of their child’s individual account at any time.

E. School district employees should be aware that the school district retains the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their files and email files. In addition, school district employees should be aware that data and other materials in files maintained on the district electronic technologies may be subject to review, disclosure or discovery under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 13 (Minnesota Government Data Practices Act).

F. The school district will cooperate fully with local, state and federal authorities in any investigation concerning or related to any illegal activities or activities not in compliance with school district policies conducted through district electronic technologies.

X. Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use Agreement

A. The proper use of district electronic technologies and internet, and the educational value to be gained from proper use of electronic technologies and the internet, is the joint responsibility of students, parents/guardians and employees of the school district.

B, The Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use Policy will be referenced in the student handbook and employee handbook, and will be posted on the district website. Paper copies will be available to parents upon request. Supervising teachers will provide guidance and instruction on acceptable use of the internet. Parents may request that their child not use the internet by notifying the school.

C. All users shall be responsible for the protection and security of their passwords. Users shall have the ability to change passwords and maintain the confidentiality of log-on codes.

XI. Limitation on School District Liability

Use district electronic technologies is at the user’s own risk. District electronic technologies are provided on an “as is, as available” basis. The school district will not be responsible for any damage users may suffer, including, but not limited to, loss, damage, or unavailability of data stored on school district tapes, hard drives, or servers, or for delays or changes in or interruptions of service or misdeliveries or nondeliveries of information or materials, regardless of the cause. The school district is not responsible for the accuracy or quality of any advice or information obtained through or stored on district electronic technologies. The school district will not be responsible for financial obligations arising through unauthorized use of district electronic technologies or the internet.

XII. User Notification

A. All users shall be notified of the school district policies relating to electronic technologies acceptable use.

B. This notification shall include the following:

1. Notification that electronic technologies acceptable use is subject to compliance with school district policies.

2. Disclaimers limiting the school district’s liability relative to:

a. Information stored on school district diskettes, hard drives or servers, CD, DVD, jump drives, memory sticks, or any other storage device.

b. Information retrieved through school district computers, networks or online resources.

c. Personal property used to access school district computers, networks or online resources.

d. Unauthorized financial obligations resulting from use of school district resources/accounts to access the Internet.

3. A description of the privacy rights and limitations of school sponsored/managed Internet accounts.

4. Notification that, even though the school district may use technical means to limit student internet access, these limits do not provide a foolproof means for enforcing the provisions of this acceptable use policy.

5. Notification that goods and services can be purchased over the internet that could potentially result in unwanted financial obligations and that any financial obligation incurred by a user through the internet is the sole responsibility of the user.

6. Notification that the collection, creation, reception, maintenance, and dissemination of data via the internet, including electronic communications, is governed by Public and Private Personnel Data Policy, and Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records Policy.

7. Notification that, should the user violate the school district’s acceptable use policy, the user’s access privileges may be revoked, school disciplinary action may be taken and/or appropriate legal action may be taken.

8. Notification that all provisions of the Acceptable Use policy are subordinate to local, state and federal laws.

9. Notification that student email addresses may be provided to district- approved third-party providers for access to educational tools and content.

XIII. Parent/Guardian Responsibility; Notification of Student Internet Use

A. Outside of school, parents/guardians bear responsibility for the same guidance of internet use as they exercise with information sources such as television, telephones, radio, movies and other possibly offensive media. Parents/guardians are responsible for monitoring their student’s use of the district electronic technologies and of the internet if the student is accessing district electronic technologies from home or a remote location.

B. Parents/guardians will be notified that their students will be using school district resources/accounts to access the internet and that the school district will provide parents the option to request alternative activities not requiring Internet access. This notification should include:

1. A copy of the user notification form provided to the student user

2. A description of parent/guardian responsibilities.

3. A notification that the parents/guardians have the option to request alternative educational activities not requiring Internet access and the material to exercise this option.

4. A statement that the electronic technologies acceptable use agreement must be signed by the user and the parent or guardian prior to use by the student.

5. A statement that the school district’s Electronic Technologies Acceptable Use policy is available for parental/guardian review.

XIV. Implementation; Policy Review

A. The school district administration may develop appropriate guidelines and procedures necessary to implement this policy for submission to the School Board for approval. Upon approval by the School Board, such guidelines and procedures shall be an addendum to this policy.

B. The administration shall revise the student and parent/guardian notifications, if necessary, to reflect the adoption of these guidelines and procedures.

C. The school district’s internet policies and procedures are available for review by all parents, guardians, staff and members of the community.

D. The School Board shall conduct an annual review of this policy.

Legal References:
Minn. Stat. Ch. 13 (Minnesota Government Data Practices Act)
15 U.S.C. § 6501 et seq. (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)
17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. (Copyrights)
20 U.S.C. § 1232g (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)
47 U.S.C. § 254 (Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 (CIPA))
47 C.F.R. §54.520 (FCC Regulations Implementing CIPA)
Minn. Stat. § 121A.031 (School Student Bullying Policy)
Minn. Stat. § 125B.15 (Internet Access for Students)
Minn. Stat. § 125B.26 (Telecommunications/Internet Access Equity Aid)
Mahanoy Area Sch. Dist. v B.L., 594 U.S. 141 S. Ct. 2038 (2021)
Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cnty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969)
United States v. American Library Association, 539 U.S. 194 (2003)
R.S. v. Minnewaska Area Sch. Dist. No. 2149, 894 F.Supp.2d 1128 (D. Minn. 2012)
Tatro v. Univ. of Minnesota, 800 N.W.2d 811 (Minn. App. 2011), aff’d on other grounds 816 N.W.2d 509 (Minn. 2012)
S.J.W. v. Lee’s Summit R-7 Sch. Dist., 696 F.3d 771 (8th Cir. 2012)
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc. v. Camdenton R-III Sch. Dist., 853 F.Supp.2d 888 (W.D. Mo. 2012)
M.T. v. Cent. York Sch. Dist., 937 A.2d 538 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2007)

Cross References:
WBLASB Policy 403 (Discipline, Suspension, and Dismissal of School District Employees)
WBLASB Policy 406 (Public and Private Personnel Data)
WBLASB Policy 505 (Distribution of Nonschool Sponsored Materials on School Premises by Students and Employees)
WBLASB Policy 506 (Student Discipline)
WBLASB Policy 514 (Bullying Prohibition Policy)
WBLASB Policy 515 (Protection and Privacy of Pupil Records)
WBLASB Policy 519 (Interviews of Students by Outside Agencies)
WBLASB Policy 521 (Student Disability Nondiscrimination)
WBLASB Policy 522 (Title IX Sex Nondiscrimination Grievance Procedures and Process)
WBLASB Policy 603 (Curriculum Development) WBLASB Policy 604 (Instructional Curriculum)
WBLASB Policy 606 (Textbooks and Instructional Material)
WBLASB Policy 806 (Crisis Management Policy)
WBLASB Policy 904 (Distribution of Materials on School District Property by Nonschool Persons)