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Policy 8080 - Responsible Use of Technology and Social Media

The purpose of this policy is to define expectations for: the responsible use of technology and social media for HCPSS-sanctioned activities, the responsible use of technology and social media to enhance the education process and improve systemwide communications efforts, maintaining the safety and privacy of individuals.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to providing equitable access to technology and social media to further the strategic goals of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). The Board believes that technology should be leveraged to improve instruction, business operations, and communications. The Board encourages the use of social media to enhance student and stakeholder engagement, facilitate collaborative communications, and increase global connections. The Board believes that as technology changes the ways that information is accessed, stored, communicated, and transferred, those changes provide new opportunities and responsibilities. The Board expects that all individuals will act in a responsible, civil, ethical, and appropriate manner when using technology for HCPSS-sanctioned activities.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define expectations for:

  • The responsible use of technology and social media for HCPSS-sanctioned activities.

  • The responsible use of technology and social media to enhance the education process and improve systemwide communications efforts.

  • Maintaining the safety and privacy of individuals.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Account Credentials – Any data or object used specifically for the purpose of gaining access (authenticating) to an electronic system, usually a username and password combination.

  2. Authentication – Verification of an individual’s identity through username/password or other mechanism.

  3. Digital Tool – Any website, application (app), or software that requires an account.

  4. Network – The means of transmitting data between computer systems; includes wired and wireless technologies.

  5. Online Resource – Any website, application (app), or software that does not require an account.

  6. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – Any information that, alone or in combination, would make it possible to identify an individual with reasonable certainty.

  7. Personal Social Media Account – A social media account created by an employee to conduct non-HCPSS sanctioned activities.

  8. Professional Social Media Account – A social media account created by an employee for HCPSS-sanctioned activities.

  9. Social Media – Digital tools that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking such as, blogs, microblogs, Internet forums, wikis, and social bookmarking. Email is excluded from this definition.

  10. Software – Any application or script that can be executed on a computer system, server, or other electronic device.

  11. Technology – Electronic devices, network infrastructure, or any applications including but not limited to software, online resources, digital tools, social media, and email.

  12. Terms of Service – Rules and notification written by a service provider that individuals must agree to in order to use the service.

  13. Third Party Service – Digital tool in which individuals or schools agree to the generic terms of services and privacy policies of a service provider. The individuals or schools create accounts.

IV. Standards

  1. General

    1. Notice of the provisions of this policy and individual responsibilities will be communicated to all students, parents, employees, and other users of HCPSS technology.

    2. Access to technology will be provided in accordance with the procedures associated with this policy and in accordance with Policy 3040 - Technology Security.

    3. All content transmitted through technology for HCPSS-sanctioned activities is subject to all relevant HCPSS Board policies.

    4. The personal use of technology, digital tools, and social media may not interfere with student or employee work, cause disruptions to the school or work environment, result in additional costs to the HCPSS, or violate HCPSS policies or applicable laws.

  2. Compliance

    1. Electronic student and personnel records, as well as other student records and personally identifiable information, will be kept confidential and secure in accordance with Policy 9050 - Student Records, Policy 7010 - Personnel Records, and the federal law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    2. All digital tools and social media used with students for HCPSS-sanctioned activities will be authorized before use in accordance with Policy 8040 - Selection of Instructional Materials.

    3. HCPSS technology and authorized digital tools and social media are accessible for instructional use and HCPSS-sanctioned activities consistent with current student and employee roles and instructional requirements.

    4. All HCPSS technology, digital tools, and social media will comply with licensing and fair use agreements and applicable policies. Individuals will abide by the Terms of Service and privacy policy.

    5. Digital tools and social media that do not publish terms of service and privacy policies consistent with federal and state student privacy protections may not be used for HCPSS-sanctioned activities.

    6. All authorized digital tools will comply with the federal law, the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), and the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-131, Student Data Privacy Act of 2015.

    7. In order to comply with the federal law, Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA):

      1. The HCPSS will deploy technology that attempts to filter abusive, libelous, obscene, offensive, profane, threatening, sexually explicit, pornographic, illegal, or other inappropriate material that is harmful to minors.

      2. Employees will monitor online HCPSS-sanctioned student activities including social media and digital tools, to the extent practical.

    8. In order to comply with federal and state laws, the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, and Grace’s Law, Misuse of Interactive Computer Service, staff will provide ongoing instruction to students concerning responsible, appropriate, and civil online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and regarding cyberbullying awareness and response.

    9. In conformance with the Maryland User Name and Password Privacy Protection and Exclusion Act, Annotated Code of Maryland, Labor and Employment Article, §3-712, staff is prohibited from requesting or requiring an employee or applicant for employment to disclose any account credentials used for accessing a personal social media account or service.

  3. Professional Use

    1. Professional social media accounts created by employees are the property of the HCPSS.

    2. An employee must relinquish information necessary to maintain a professional social media account and may no longer access the account if the employee’s job responsibilities change or employment is discontinued through resignation, retirement, termination, or any other cause.

    3. Reassignment of technology between schools, offices, or other physical locations will be approved by the Superintendent/Designee and will be in compliance, with Policy 4040 - Fixed Assets.

  4. Student Use

    1. The HCPSS will not mandate that students provide their own technology at school.

    2. To ensure accessibility and equal educational opportunities, employees using supplemental digital tools and social media as part of the instructional experience will provide an alternative for students whose parents do not accept the Terms of Service or privacy policy with the exception of HCPSS essential curricular digital tools.

  5. Accountability

    1. In accordance with Grace’s Law and in cases of probable or potential harm to an individual, appropriate follow-through and communication with the individual in danger and others who are in a position to protect that individual from harm including, but not limited to law enforcement, if necessary, must be undertaken by the individual who discovers the probable or potential harm.

    2. When student disciplinary investigations lead to searches and seizures on school property that involve technology, these searches and seizures will take place in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 7-308 and Policy 9260 - Student Search and Seizure.

    3. The destruction or theft of HCPSS technology as the result of negligence or misuse will be the financial responsibility of the responsible individual(s).

    4. Individuals assume full responsibility for personally-owned technology devices; therefore, the HCPSS is not responsible for any personally-owned technology devices.

    5. Digital tools and social media used for HCPSS-sanctioned activities may be monitored for appropriate use. The HCPSS may also access, monitor, archive, audit, purge or disclose the public contents of material created, stored or accessed through personal digital tools and social media accounts when possible and permitted by law.

    6. The HCPSS reserves the right to enable or disable interactive features on social media and to remove content inconsistent with the stated purpose, mission, and guidelines posted for the use of the social media.

    7. Failure by any individual to comply with this policy may result in the temporary or permanent termination of technology access privileges, in addition to any applicable disciplinary action or financial obligation.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/Designee, in coordination with community recommendations from appropriate stakeholders, will establish guidelines for the responsible use of technology and social media.

  2. The Superintendent/Designee will communicate the provisions of this policy annually through customary channels.

  3. The Superintendent/Designee will review this policy at least every three years and will recommend revision as necessary.

  4. The Superintendent/Designee will establish prudent measures to safeguard the security of HCPSS technology in accordance with Policy 3040 - Technology Security.

  5. The Superintendent/Designee will establish the process for authorizing digital tools for use during HCPSS-sanctioned activities.

  6. The Superintendent/Designee will maintain a presence on social media for the HCPSS.

  7. The Superintendent/Designee will notify all technology users of all provisions of this policy.

  8. The Office of Human Resources will notify the Superintendent/Designee of change of employment status for any employee.

  9. Using established procedures, the Superintendent/Designee will modify account privileges based on changes to employment status.

  10. Principals and supervisors will notify students, families, and employees in their schools and offices of all end-of-year and end-of-employment checkout procedures.

  11. Principals and supervisors will notify all technology users in their schools and offices of all provisions of this policy.

  12. Staff will provide information to students regarding digital citizenship, as appropriate.

  13. The Office of Use of School Facilities will notify individuals or organizations seeking to use school system computer technology as part of an agreement to use school system facilities (Policy 10020 - Use of School Facilities) of the provisions of this policy.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, 15 U.S.C. §6501 (COPPA)

  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §2701-2711

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. §1232(g)

  • Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, 47 C.F.R. §§54.520(c)(1)(i) and 54.520(c)(2)(i)

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 20 U.S.C. §794(d)

  • Title XVII, Children’s Internet Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. §254(h) (CIPA)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Law Article, §3-805 (Misuse of Interactive Computer Service (Grace’s Law))

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-131, Student Data Privacy Act of 2015

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-308 (Searches of students and schools)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Labor and Employment Article, §3-712 (User Name and Password Privacy Protection and Exclusions)

C. Relevant Data Sources

  • Central Inventory Database

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: November 26, 2002

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED: January 21, 2003, May 10, 2007, March 11, 2010, June 27, 2013, June 9, 2016

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2016