Acceptable Use Policy
by Mary Dobbins
October 01, 2008
Acceptable Use Guidelines For Technology Resources
Permission for student access to the Internet is granted through the Student Handbook Acknowledgement Form, which must be signed by both the parent/guardian and the student and returned to the appropriate campus office. If you do not wish for your student to have access to the Internet, you must submit a signed letter which states that your child is not allowed Internet access and return it with the Acknowledgment Form.
Comstock Independent School District provides technology resources to its students and staff for educational and administrative purposes. The goal in providing these resources is to promote educational excellence in the Comstock school by facilitating resource sharing, innovation and communication with the support and supervision of parents, teachers and support staff. The use of these technology resources is a privilege, not a right.
With access to computers and people all over the world comes the potential availability of material that may not be considered to be of educational value in the context of the school setting. Comstock ISD firmly believes that the value of information, interaction, and research capabilities available outweighs the possibility that users may obtain material that is not consistent with the educational goals of the district.
Proper behavior, as it relates to the use of computers, is no different than proper behavior in all other aspects of Comstock ISD activities. All users are expected to use the computers and computer networks in a responsible, ethical, and polite manner. This document is intended to clarify those expectations as they apply to computer and network usage and is consistent with District Policy.
Definition of District Technology Resources
The District's computer systems and networks are any configuration of hardware and software. The systems and networks include all of the computer hardware, operating system software, application software, stored text, and data files. This includes electronic mail, local databases, externally accessed databases (such as the Internet), CD-ROM, optical media, clip art, digital images, digitized information, communications technologies, and new technologies as they become available. The District reserves the right to monitor all technology resource activity.
The District's technology resources will be used only for learning, teaching and administrative purposes consistent with the District's mission and goals. Commercial use of the District's system is strictly prohibited.
The District will make training available to all users in the proper use of the system and will make copies of acceptable use guidelines available to all users. All training in the use of the District's system will emphasize the ethical use of this resource.
Software or external data may not be placed on any computer, whether stand-alone or networked to the District's system, without permission from the Superintendent or designee.
Other issues applicable to acceptable use are:
1. Copyright: All users are expected to follow existing copyright laws,
copies of which may be found in each campus library.
2. Supervision and permission: Student use of the computers and computer
network is only allowed when supervised or granted permission by a staff member.
3. Attempting to log on or logging on to a computer or e-mail system by
using another's password is prohibited: Assisting others in violating
this rule by sharing information or passwords is unacceptable.
4. Improper use of any computer or the network is prohibited. This includes
• Using racist, profane, or obscene language or materials
• Using the network for financial gain, political or commercial activity
• Attempting to or harming equipment, materials or data
• Attempting to or sending anonymous messages of any kind
• Using the network to access inappropriate material
• Knowingly placing a computer virus on a computer or the network
• Using the network to provide addresses or other personal information that others may use inappropriately
• Accessing of information resources, files and documents of another
user without their permission
5. The use of Internet chat rooms is prohibited on all school computers unless approved by the Superintendent &/or his/her designee.
Access to the District's network systems will be governed as follows:
1. Students will have access to the District's resources for class assignments and research with their teacher's permission and/or supervision.
2. Teachers with accounts will be required to maintain password confidentiality by not sharing the password with students or others.
3. With the approval of the immediate supervisor, district employees will be granted access to the District's system.
4. Any system user identified as a security risk or having violated the District’s Acceptable Use Guidelines may be denied access to the District's system. Other consequences may also be assigned.
5. The use of the Internet is a privilege, not a right, and inappropriate use will result in a cancellation of those privileges. The Superintendent, campus principals, technology director and/or their designees will deem what is inappropriate use and their decision is final. The system administrator may close an account at any time as required or as they deem appropriate without notice.
Campus Level Coordinator Responsibilities
As the campus level coordinator for the network systems, the principal or designee will:
1. Be responsible for disseminating and enforcing the District Acceptable Use Guidelines for the District's system at the campus level.
2. Ensure that employees supervising students who use the District's systems provide information emphasizing the appropriate and ethical use of this resource.
Individual User Responsibilities
The following standards will apply to all users of the District's computer network systems:
1. The individual in whose name a system account is issued will be responsible at all times for its proper use.
2. The system may not be used for illegal purposes, in support of illegal activities, or for any other activity prohibited by district guidelines.
3. System users may not use another person's system account without written permission from the campus coordinator or principal, as appropriate.
4. System users are asked to purge electronic mail or outdated files on a regular basis.
5. System users are responsible for making sure they do not violate any copyright laws.
Any malicious attempt to harm or destroy District equipment or materials, data of another user of the District's system, or any of the agencies or other networks to which the District has access is prohibited. Deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt system performance may be viewed as violations of district guidelines and, possibly, as criminal activity under applicable state and federal laws, including the Texas Penal Code, Computer Crimes, Chapter 33. This includes, but is not limited to, the uploading or creating of computer viruses.
Vandalism as defined above will result in the cancellation of system use privileges, possible prosecution, and will require restitution for costs associated with system restoration, hardware, or software costs.
The willful introduction of computer “viruses” or other disruptive/destructive programs into the District’s network or into external networks is prohibited.
Forgery or attempted forgery of electronic messages is prohibited. Attempts to read, delete, copy, or modify the electronic mail of other system users or deliberate interference with the ability of other system users to send/receive electronic mail is prohibited.
Information Content/Third Party Supplied Information
System users and parents of students with access to the District's system should be aware that use of the system may provide access to other electronic communications systems outside the District's networks that may contain inaccurate and/or objectionable material.
A student bringing prohibited materials into the school's electronic environment will be subject to a suspension and/or a revocation of privileges on the District's system and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. An employee knowingly bringing prohibited materials into the school's electronic environment will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with District policies.
System users are expected to observe the following network etiquette (also known as netiquette):
1. Use appropriate language: swearing, vulgarity, ethnic or racial slurs, and any other inflammatory language is prohibited.
2. Pretending to be someone else when sending/receiving messages are prohibited.
3. Transmitting obscene messages or pictures is prohibited.
4. Revealing such personal information as addresses or phone numbers of users or others is prohibited.
5. Using the network in such a way that would disrupt the use of the network by other users is prohibited.
6. Be polite. For example, messages typed in capital letters are the computer equivalent of shouting and are considered rude.
Termination/Revocation of System User Account
The District may suspend or revoke a system user's access to the District's system upon violation of District policy and/or administrative regulations regarding acceptable use.
Termination of an employee's account or of a student's access will be effective on the date the principal or campus coordinator receives notice of user withdrawal or of revocation of system privileges, or on a future date if so specified in the notice.
Consequences of Improper Use
Improper or unethical use may result in disciplinary actions consistent with the existing Student Discipline Policy and, if appropriate, the Texas Penal Code, Computer Crimes, Chapter 33, or other state and federal laws. This may also require restitution for costs associated with system restoration, hardware, or software costs.
The District's system is provided on an "as is, as available" basis. The District does not make any warranties, whether expressed or implied, including, without limitation, those of fitness for a particular purpose with respect to any services provided by the system and any information or software contained therein. The District uses a variety of vendor supplied hardware and software. Therefore, the District does not warrant that the functions or services performed by, or that the information or software contained on the system will meet the user's requirements. Neither does the District warrant that the system will be uninterrupted or error-free, nor that defects will be corrected.
Opinions, advice, services, and all other information expressed by system users, information providers, service providers, or other third party individuals in the system are those of the providers and not necessarily the District.
The District will cooperate fully with local, state, or federal officials in any investigation concerning or relating to misuse of the District's computer systems and networks.
Network storage areas may be treated like school lockers. Network administrators and/or their designees may review files and communications to maintain system integrity and insure that users are using the system properly. Users should not expect that files stored on District servers would always be private.
Electronic Mail and Additional Technology Guidelines
• Electronic Mail (e-mail)
• User Security Responsibilities
• Maintenance of Local Hard Drives
E-mail has become one of the most used communications tools in both offices and classrooms. The following points are important to keep in mind:
• The software and hardware that provides us e-mail capabilities has been publicly funded. For that reason, it should not be considered a private, personal form of communication. The Open Records Act would govern the contents of any communication of this type. We would have to abide and cooperate with any legal request for access to e-mail contents by the proper authorities.
• Since e-mail access is provided as a normal operating tool for any employee who requires it to perform their job, individual staff e-mail addresses must be shared with interested parents and community members who request to communicate with staff in this fashion. We have no plans to produce and publish a district-wide list of e-mail addresses, but each campus should post a list of e-mail addresses for their staff through their Internet pages.
• Staff should be expected to return e-mail communications to parents or other public members who have a legitimate business request within a reasonable amount of time whenever possible. Requests from outside agencies for information do not fit into this same category and can be handled with a different timeline or in a manner consistent with previous experience in working with similar requests.
• Incoming e-mail that is misaddressed will remain “undeliverable.”
• Requests for personal information on students or staff members should not be honored via e-mail. It is critical for a personal contact to be made with any individual requesting personal information. This relates particularly to any requests for student grades, discipline, attendance or related information. In addition, security information such as username or password should not be sent via e-mail for any reason.
• During student contact time in the classroom, your e-mail notifier should be turned off to prevent interruptions. Staff members should set aside time at least once a day to check and respond to e-mail messages.
• Since e-mail access is provided for school business related use, please do not forward messages that have no educational or professional value. An example would be any number of messages that show a cute text pattern or follow a “chain letter” concept. These messages should be deleted and the sender notified that messages of that nature are not appropriate to receive on your district e-mail account.
• Please use the “groups” function of our e-mail system appropriately. Do not send messages to an entire staff when only a small group of people actually needs to receive the message.
• Attachments to e-mail messages should include only data files. At no time should program files (typically labeled “.exe”) be attached due to software licensing requirements. In addition, there exists the real possibility that any program files received as attachments over the Internet may include viruses or other very destructive capabilities once they’re “launched” or started. If you receive an attachment like this, please delete the e-mail message immediately without saving or looking at the attachment.
• Subscriptions to Internet listservs should be limited to professional digests due to the amount of e-mail traffic generated by general subscriptions. Please use your personal Internet account to receive listserv subscriptions of a general nature, if one is available.
• Students will not be issued individual e-mail accounts.
User Security Responsibilities
• Your username and password should be protected from unauthorized use at all times. Do not post any of this information where others can view it.
• Do not share your password via e-mail at any time. If a technology representative needs that information, they must request it in person.
• If you as an employee leave your computer logged in at any time anyone can access your grade book, e-mail, and other personal files. Please be sure to logout when your access is not needed.
Maintenance of Local Hard Drives
• On occasion, we need to reformat hard drives. Reformatting completely erases all contents of the hard drive. All district software such as Microsoft Office and Gradespeed, which is consistent throughout the district, will be reinstalled. All other approved software, purchased by the campus will also be reinstalled. We will not reinstall unapproved copies of software nor will we be able to retrieve any personal data files. With this in mind, please be personally responsible for making backups of any data files that you store on your local hard drive.
• All monitors should be shut down each evening.
Comstock ISD employs a filtering program to minimize access to inappropriate web sites for its students. The filtering software is a commercially produced filter product that attempts to block possibly objectionable sites. No filter is perfect. Comstock ISD will not accept responsibility of student’s disregard of the District’s policies and guidelines as they relate to Internet access.