— The Board of Education is pondering a new policy regarding the students' use of technology.
The proposal states students may possess devices, including laptop computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices, on school property and during school-sponsored activities.
It stipulates students may not use them during instructional time, “except as specifically permitted by instructional staff.”
The proposal would prohibit students from using devices to send messages deemed harassing or threatening to any person or to gain unauthorized access to district technology resources or obscene materials.
It notes that the district reserves the right to monitor the use of its network by all devices.
“Any act by a student using a privately-owned technological device that harms the Board’s technology resources or otherwise interferes with or compromises the integrity of Board technology resources will be considered vandalism and will be subject to discipline and/or appropriate criminal or civil action,” the proposal states.
The board briefly discussed the proposed policy during a remote meeting Thursday night. It will vote on the proposal, and others, when it convenes in August.
The policy is an extension of an existing “acceptable use policy” regarding students' use of technology. It comes as the Southington Public Schools district prepares to issue its own devices, including Chromebook laptop computers and other technology, to all students, from kindergarten through grade 12.
The devices will cost a little more than $620,000. The majority of the funding will come from $418,000 in Federal CARES Act aid. A total of $210,000 in unspent funds from the school year that just ended will also be used.
Board Vice Chairman Joseph Baczewski was the only board member to raise questions Thursday night.
“Because we actually have a device that students can utilize is there still going to be a need for cell phones in the classroom. Because I would like to see that go away,” he said. “Because it's a distraction.”
Steven Madancy, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, explained outlawing outside devices, like cell phones, in schools is improbable.
“There are districts that have tried to ban cell phones completely from schools,” Madancy said. “It's not going to happen.”
The district would become responsible for possible civil infringements, including search and seizure if it tried to enforce such a policy.
“There's no reasonable suspicion there,” Madancy said. “... Kids will have devices. We have to make sure they're using them appropriately. If they're not using them appropriately, the board has a policy.”