Public meeting features Internet safety in schools

Published 4:55 pm Monday, April 28, 2014

A public meeting to discuss Internet safety in local schools was held Friday at the Chilton County Board of Education.

Chilton County Schools Technology Coordinator Kim Arrington provided up-to-date information regarding the school system’s Internet Safety Policy and Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) compliance.

Signed into law in December 2000, CIPA requires school systems to certify they are enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes measures to block or filter Internet access, Arrington said.

“We must be CIPA compliant to receive federal funds,” she said.

Arrington said every school has a policy that includes preventing user access to inappropriate material, preventing unauthorized access and other unlawful online activity, preventing unauthorized online disclosure of personal identification information of minors and compliance with CIPA.

All staff members are responsible for educating, supervising and monitoring appropriate usage of the Internet, Arrington said. Staff must teach students how to identify inappropriate material on the Internet, teach safety and security, teach students about unauthorized access, teach students to secure personal identification and teach cyber bullying awareness and response.

“We like for every teacher to be responsible for educating their students,” Arrington added.

Arrington said training for students varies from school to school and includes activities and presentations from NetSmartz and Common Sense Media (two resources for Internet safety training), assemblies, a broadcast system, counselor presentations and class counseling sessions.

Then, teachers document in their lesson plans how such skills are taught, Arrington said.

Teacher verification documents indicate they understood and embrace the district-wide Internet Safety Policy and the education requirements related to CIPA, and they certify students were educated according to CIPA requirements.

Administrator verification documents indicate all students were educated on Internet safety; appropriate behavior while online, on social networking web sites and in chat rooms; and cyber bullying awareness and response. The documents certify that all teacher verification documents and other pertinent documentation are compiled.

Arrington addressed the school system’s technology protection measures, which include a content filtering contract with Alabama Supercomputer Authority.

“CIPA requires that we have filtering of the Internet,” she said.

ASA filters Internet access and blocks materials that are obscene, child pornography, gambling or sites harmful to minors.

It updates every 24 hours, and sites can be added or deleted at the district level only, Arrington said.

Arrington talked about employee network and Internet usage, iNow home access, copyrighted materials, computer software selection and duplication, social networking guidelines and student access of the Internet, which is detailed in the Chilton County Schools Student/Parent Information Guide.

“All of the classroom teachers go over the guide with students to make sure they understand,” Arrington said. “Parents must sign off that they have read and understand the guide.”

As of last week, every school campus in Chilton County had full Wi-Fi coverage, according to Arrington.

Although local schools don’t have enough funding to provide individual devices for all students at school, Arrington said the possibility of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) system being implemented someday is not out of the question, as long as Internet safety and CIPA compliance requirements are met.

“I see more changes coming to all of this in the next few years with online testing,” she said. “We want to keep the students safe. That’s our first priority.”