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Austin Public Schools

Policy 524 - Acceptable Use Policy

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I. PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to protect employees, students, and associates from illegal or damaging actions by individuals, either knowingly or unknowingly; it is not meant to impose restrictions that are contrary to Austin Public Schools established culture of openness, trust and integrity. The Austin Public Schools information network system, referred to here after as "The Information Network", includes but is not limited to; computer equipment, software, operating systems, storage media, network accounts providing, online browsing, electronic mail (email), and cloud based storage are the property of Austin Public Schools. This information network is to be used for school business and educational purposes in serving the interests of the school district. Effective security is a team effort involving the participation and support of every Austin Public Schools student, employee, and associate who deals with information and/or information systems. It is the responsibility of every information network system user to know these guidelines and to conduct their activities accordingly. The District Technology Advisory Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators, parents, and school board members, developed and maintains this policy.

II. SCOPE

This policy applies to students, employees, contractors, consultants, temporaries, and other workers at Austin Public Schools, including all personnel affiliated with third parties. This policy applies to all equipment that is owned or leased by Austin Public Schools.

III. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY

In making decisions regarding user access to the information network, Austin Public Schools considers its own educational mission, goals, and objectives. The primary purpose of the information network is to support and enhance teaching and learning that prepares students for success. Providing access to the information network is an investment in the future of our students and employees. Network technology is one of the resources that promotes educational and organizational excellence. The responsible use of this technology will allow students and staff to significantly expand their knowledge by means of accessing and using information resources; and by analyzing, collaborating and publishing information. Austin Public Schools expects that faculty will blend thoughtful use of the information network throughout the curriculum and will provide guidance and instruction to students in their use.

IV. LIMITED TO EDUCATIONAL PURPOSE

Austin Public Schools is providing students and employees with access to the School District’s information network, which includes restricted access to the public Internet and email accounts for students in grades 5 through 12. The purpose of the information network is not merely to provide students and employees with general access to the Internet. The School District’s information network has an educational purpose, which includes classroom activities, professional or career development, and limited high-quality, self-discovery activities. Users are expected to use Internet access through Austin Public Schools information network to further educational and personal goals consistent with the mission of the School District and school policies.

V. USE OF SYSTEM IS A PRIVILEGE

Use of the Austin Public Schools information network is a privilege, not a right. Depending on the nature and degree of the violation, and the number of previous violations, unacceptable use of the Austin Public Schools information network 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. SECURITY AND PROPRIETARY INFORMATION

  • Employees should take all necessary steps to prevent unauthorized access to proprietary information. Examples of confidential information include but are not limited to: student records, financial records, student and faculty lists, passwords, files and folders, e-mail addresses phone numbers, addresses etc.
  • Keep passwords secure and do not share accounts. Authorized users are responsible for the security of their passwords and accounts. System level passwords and user level passwords are required to be changed every 90 days.
  • All PCs, laptops and workstations should be secured by logging-off (control-alt-delete) or by locking the account when the computer will be unattended.
  • Because information contained on portable computers is especially vulnerable, special care should be exercised. Protect laptops with strong passwords and don’t leave them unattended, especially in public places.
  • All computers that are connected to the information network, whether owned by a third party or by Austin Public Schools, shall be continually executing virus- scanning software with a current virus database. Users must use extreme caution when opening e- mail attachments received from unknown senders, which may contain viruses, malware, or other harmful content to the information network.
  • Computers brought into the school district by outside parties or vendors will only be connected to the wireless network designated for non-district owned devices.
  • Users will not use the information network to engage in bullying or cyberbullying in violation of the school district’s Bullying Prohibition Policy (MSBA/MASA Model Policy 514). This prohibition includes using any technology or other electronic communication off school premises to the extent that student learning or the school environment is substantially and materially disrupted.

VII. SOFTWARE POLICY

No individual shall install any operating systems, software, patches, or updates on any computers owned by Austin Public Schools outside of the district approved software deployment store unless they have obtained prior approval from Technology Services. There are three important reasons for this.

  • Security: Many software programs, especially freeware programs, are poorly written or contain malicious codes such as key-loggers or spy-ware that could compromise network security.
  • Cost and Performance: There are a multitude of programs freely available over the internet that are classified as spy-ware. These programs usually run as a service on the computer and have an icon that is visible in the system tray. These programs generate huge amounts of unnecessary network traffic which degrades network performance and increases costs for the school district.
  • Support: Any software installed without technical services approval will not be subject to the same level of support that approved programs include. Installing unapproved programs could result in data loss, computer and network problems, or even culpability in causing a network outage. In such cases technical services may not be able to recover all your data or in the case of a network outage, you may be subject to disciplinary action or liability for damages.

VIII. UNACCEPTABLE USES

The uses of the Austin Public Schools information network which are considered unacceptable include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to access, or distribute pornographic, obscene or sexually explicit material.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to access or distribute obscene, abusive, profane, lewd, vulgar, rude, inflammatory, threatening, disrespectful, or sexually explicit language.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to access or distribute materials that use language or images that are inappropriate in the educational setting or disruptive to the educational process and will not post or transmit information or materials that could cause damage or danger of disruption.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to access or distribute materials that use language or images that advocate violence or discrimination toward other people (hate literature) or that may constitute harassment or discrimination.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to knowingly or recklessly post or transmit false or defamatory information about a person or organization, or to harass another person, or to engage in personal attacks, including prejudicial or discriminatory attacks.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to engage in any illegal act or violate any local, state or federal statute or law.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to vandalize, damage or disable the property of another person or organization, will not make deliberate attempts to degrade or disrupt information network performance by spreading computer viruses or by any other means, will not tamper with, modify or change the school district information network or take any action to violate the school district system’s security, and will not use the school district system in such a way as to disrupt the use of the information network of other users.
  • Users will not use the Austin Public Schools information network to gain unauthorized access to information resources or to access another person’s materials, information or files without the implied or direct permission of that person.
  • Users will not use the District’s electronic technologies to post information in public access areas regarding private information about another person. Private information includes personal contact information about themselves or other persons, or other personally identifiable information including, but not limited to, addresses, 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
  • Users will not attempt to gain unauthorized access to the Austin Public Schools Information Network or any other system through the District’s electronic technologies. Users will not attempt to logon through another person’s account, or use computer accounts, access codes or network identification other than those assigned to the user. Access through any means other than an individual’s user logon and password is not permitted.
  • Users will not use Austin Public Schools information network 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 they find on the Internet.
  • Users will not use Austin Public Schools information network for the conduct of a business, for unauthorized commercial purposes or for financial gain unrelated to the mission of the School District.
  • Users will not use the School District information network to offer or provide goods or services or for product advertisement, except as authorized by the District administration.
  • Users will not use the school district information network to purchase goods or services for personal use without authorization from the appropriate school district official.

IX. CONSISTENCY WITH OTHER SCHOOL POLICIES

Use of the School District information network shall be consistent with School District policies and the mission of the school district.

X. LIMITED EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY

By authorizing use of Austin Public Schools information network, the School District does not relinquish control over materials on the system or contained in files on the system. Users should expect only limited privacy in the contents of personal files on the School District information network.

Routine maintenance and monitoring of Austin Public Schools information network system may lead to a discovery that a user has violated this policy, another school district policy, or the law.

Austin Public Schools reserves the right to audit computer systems, e-mail use, internet use, and user files.
Parents have the right at any time to investigate or review the contents of their child’s school issued accounts that are a part of the information network. Parents have the right to request the termination of their child’s individual account at any time.

Austin Public Schools employees should be aware that data and other materials in files maintained on the information network may be subject to review, disclosure or discovery under Minnesota Statues, Chapter 13 (the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act).

The Austin Public Schools 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 the school district information network.

XI. ACCEPTABLE USE AGREEMENT

The proper use of the Information network is the joint responsibility of students, parents and employees of the Austin Public Schools. The form must signed prior to access of the network.

XII. LIMITATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICT LIABILITY

Use of the Austin Public Schools information network is at the user’s own risk. The network is 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, hard drives or servers, or for delays or changes in or interruptions of service or mis-delivery or non-delivery 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 Austin Public Schools information network. The School District will not be responsible for financial obligations arising through unauthorized use of Austin Public Schools information network.

XIII. USER NOTIFICATION

All users shall be notified of the School District policies relating to Internet use. This notification shall include the following:

  • Notification that Internet use is subject to compliance with School District policies.
  • Disclaimers limiting the School District’s liability relative to:
    • Information stored on School District portable storage devices, hard drives, cloud based storage, or servers.
    • Information retrieved through School District computers, networks or online resources.
    • Personal property used to access School District computers, networks or online resources.
    • Unauthorized financial obligations resulting from use of School District resources/accounts to access the Internet.
  • A description of the privacy rights and limitations of school sponsored/managed Internet accounts.
  • 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.
  • 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 staff member or student, through the Internet is the sole responsibility of the staff member, student or the student’s parents/guardians.
  • Notification that should the user violate the School District’s Acceptable Use Policy, the users access privileges may be revoked, school disciplinary action may be taken and/or appropriate legal action may be taken.
  • Austin Public Schools reserves the right to unilaterally amend this agreement. Notice will consist of a written (e.g. school newspaper, etc.) and/or an email announcement. Use of Austin Public Schools information network system after the effective date of the amendment constitutes acceptance of the new terms.
  • Notification that all provisions of the acceptable use policy is subordinate to local, state and federal laws.

XIV. PARENT RESPONSIBILITY; NOTIFICATION OF STUDENT INTERNET/EMAIL USE

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

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

  • A copy of the user notification form provided to the student user.
  • A description of parent/guardian responsibilities.
  • A notification that the parents have the option to request alternative educational activities not requiring Internet access.
  • A statement that the Internet Use Agreement must be signed by the user and the parent or guardian prior to use by the student.
  • A statement that the School District’s Acceptable Use Policy is available for parental review.

XV. IMPLEMENTATION; POLICY REVIEW

The District Technology Committee 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.

The District Technology Committee shall revise the student and parent notifications, if necessary, to reflect the adoption of these guidelines and procedures.

The School District’s Internet policies and procedures are available for review by all parents, guardians, staff and members of the community.

Because of the rapid changes in the development of the Internet, the school board shall conduct an annual review of this policy.

XVI. DUE PROCESS FOR SUSPECTED VIOLATIONS

When a suspected violation of this Acceptable Use Policy has been identified, the policy stated below will be adhered to:

  • Students: When a suspected violation of this Acceptable Use Policy is identified, the student will be referred to school administration for investigation and possible disciplinary consequences in accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook.
  • Employees: When a suspected violation of this Acceptable Use Policy is identified, the employee will be referred to school administration for investigation and possible disciplinary consequences. [refer to policy for employee/personnel].

    Austin Public Schools reserves the right to restrict access to the information network at anytime for any reason.

Policy Adopted: 02/21/01
Revised Policy Adopted: 05/24/04 Revised Policy Adopted: 09/27/05 Policy Reviewed: 09/08/08 Revised Policy Adopted: 12/14/15
Revised Policy Adopted: 07/10/17
Policy Reviewed: 10/08/18

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