The District addresses cybersafety issues in several venues. The Technology User Group creates and distributes Internet publishing permission forms that give parents the ability to opt-out of the use of any information about or work created by their children. Teachers and administrative staff are given limited, basic instruction in District policies about internet publishing and privacy issues, and the Communications Committee also reviews online communications to include cybersafety topics. The District currently requires all internet users (staff and students) to sign an acceptable use agreement (created by the Marin County Office of Education); this agreement will be revised by the summer of 2008 to include up-to-date language concerning cyberethics and cybersafety in alignment with AB 307 and other pending legislation.
Students constantly hear their teachers admonish against giving any personal information to strangers, including online strangers. No class uses the Internet for a project without first reviewing the importance of never giving out personal information. Parents of Kent Middle School students must sign a Permission Form, which includes the promise never to do so, in order to be able to use the school's computers. Technology and Library Media Teachers are given the primary duty of including cybersafety lessons for students as part of the overall information and technology literacy curriculum, and all teachers are charged with monitoring student use of technology to limit students' exposure to harmful material. In the 8th grade technology class, for example, students visit Netsmartz.org to consider dilemmas, temptations, and consequences related to unsafe online communication.
While such procedures are valuable, the District's goal is to standardize the message and the protocol, so that instruction in cybersafety is uniformly applied at all grade levels. This systematic approach will be especially necessary at the middle school, where students are beginning to use email- and Internet-based applications such as gaggle.net, eBoard, and Google Apps for communication and collaboration with other Kent students, and where the future may find students communicating and collaborating with children and adult experts from other locations.
Assemblies at Kent Middle School featuring police and FBI visitors sharing real stories of children victimized by Internet predators have had a marked effect on student attitudes, and will be included in our future program. Presentations directed at 5th and 6th graders differ from those directed at 7th and 8th graders, but both styles have seemed appropriate: many students have reported their attitudes changing toward caution as a result of the visits. The District's web content filter is another way of attending to the safety of students. All web content delivered to District school sites is passed through a BlueCoat software filter, installed at the Marin County Office of Education. MCOE Information Services sets the same policy for all schools using its filter, to reject web content that is obscene, contains child pornography, or is otherwise harmful to minors, so that it constitutes a CIPA-compliant technology protection system.
The Board of Trustees has adopted District policies about bullying and harassment that are applicable to cyberbullying, as well as policies about the monitoring of student use of technology, and is currently in the process of revising the overall policy book to align with newer cybersafety standards, as recommended by the California School Boards Association, to comply with CIPA, AB 307 and other new legislation. For example, H.R. 3132, a federal bill now before Congress, if passed, will mandate all school districts to adopt anti-bullying language.
To help parents understand cybersafety issues, the District has in past years offered at least one parent education workshop on cybersafety, presented by a guest expert from law enforcement, giving parents a chance to discuss students' safe use of the internet at school and at home. At these parent workshops, and at the Tech Plan workshop held in September 2007, parents expressed concerns that cybersafety be addressed in a more focused way throughout the curriculum and in District policies and procedures. As part of our response, the District will coordinate its efforts closely with Marin County Office of Education programs for staff, parents and students.
In the past CTAP Region IV worked in partnership with Regional Safe School Planning and the Marin County Office of Education Safe School Planning team to provide workshops for educators, administrators, school law enforcement partners and school psychologists on critical topics related to cybersafety. Kentfield administrators and teachers participated in workshops on "My Space Unraveled" and "How to Respond to Cyberbullying and Not Get Sued." In addition, CTAP made available its speakers for parent workshops sponsored by MCOE, the 16th District PTA and the School/Law Enforcement Partnership. Under a grant from AT&T, CTAP Region IV produced and distributed cybersafety posters, which have been posted in Kentfield classrooms, computer labs and libraries.
Beginning in 2011, the Kentfield School District adopted the Common Sense Media curriculum in cybersafety and cyberethics. Essential, grade-appropriate activities from Common Sense Media's resource library are conducted throughout the school year at both Bacich and Kent schools. The District continues to sponsor parent education workshops that coordinate with these classroom activities.
- Common Sense Media Advice for Parents
- MediaSmarts - Information on media and information literacy for parents and teachers
- Cybersafety Programs and Policies - Source material used in writing our technology plan