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Articles: Cyber

Small and medium-sized districts have unique challenges in establishing ongoing technology sustainability. However, even with limited funds and staff, it is possible for schools to have maximum functionality and ease of management with the latest technology products available. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2013, an IT manager from the Hamilton Heights (Ind.) School District shared how his school system was able to implement the Wi-Fi capabilities of a much larger district with a much smaller budget.

A robust network that allows students and staff to access the internet is critical for every school district. However, to protect students and comply with CIPA and local regulations, a multi-strategy approach with reporting, monitoring, and flexibility tools is essential.

Prior to Dec. 14, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) had its 2013 agenda set. However, like many others in the K12 education community, on that dreadful day of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn, CAPSS’ priorities changed. We spoke with Executive Director Joe Cirasuolo about how the association has redirected its efforts this year to focus on helping administrators improve their crisis management systems and strategies to help prevent an attack such as the one in Newtown from happening again.

Superstorm Sandy swept the East Coast in late October, leaving not only residents and businesses without power and struggling to stay afloat, but thousands of schools in the region without power as well. It reminded administrators of the need for comprehensive emergency plans to ensure student, staff, and data security.

Update: The hearing scheduled for Nov. 28 on Andrea Hernandez’s request to stay at John Jay High School was cancelled, after Northside ISD filed a motion to move the case from state to federal court. The district issued the following statement: “Since the Jay High School student and her father are alleging a violation of the student's federal constitutional rights, Northside ISD asked that the case be heard in federal court. The case scheduled to be heard today in State court has been canceled and now will rest with a Federal judge to make a ruling.

Gone are the days of crumpled bills at Carroll County Public Schools in Baltimore, Md. A cafeteria sales system implemented this school year uses a high-tech infrared hand scanner to access student accounts with pre-deposited money, to speed up time spent in the lunch line. However, some parents are concerned with their child’s security, especially since they were not informed of the change until the scanners were already in place.

Like most districts, the Camdenton (Mo.) R-III School District has filtering software to block content deemed inappropriate for students. Until recently, however, Camdenton was blocking Web sites geared toward supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. On Feb. 15, a federal district court ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a lawsuit filed in August 2011 on behalf of a Camdenton student.

I was bullied in ninth grade. An older kid used to wait for me outside the cafeteria, and as I left he would taunt me in front of his friends—even push me around. It went on for most of the year. Although I was scared, I never told a soul. I felt awful that I couldn’t stop it on my own. I had never been bullied before and have rarely been bullied since. Those memories are so vivid to me, as if the bullying happened yesterday. Sadly, when I sit back and reflect on that entire year of my life, I can remember little else.

I have a monthly email communication with Elliot Soloway, a University of Michigan professor and the chair of ISTE’s Special Interest Group on Mobile Learning, who writes our Going Mobile column with Cathie Norris. Somewhere within the email thread, Soloway is sure to write words such as these: “Someone has to tell the emperor he’s naked.”

The increasing incorporation of digital materials and resources into school and district portals and repositories has given rise in recent years to a new focus on the issue of identity management in K12 education.

Bullying has captured the news headlines and the attention of legislators, educators and special interest advocates over the past three years at a greater rate. High-profile teen suicides have raised questions about the role bullying may have played in student deaths.

States have enacted new anti-bullying laws and parents are turning more often to principals to resolve bullying incidents occurring in school and in cyberspace.

When Google+ was announced in late June, it began in a field trial to determine its place in social networking. While it's still unavailable to Google Apps for Education customers and the jury is still out on whether or not it will be right for K12 public schools, the project is designed to make sharing on the Web more like the real world—sharing different pieces of information with different people.

As districts across the country debate the boundaries of social media in the class room, Missouri took an unprecedented step by passing the first statewide law banning teachers from individual communication with their students on social networks. The bill was passed with bipartisan support in the Missouri legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Nixon on July 14. The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which became effective Aug. 28, was created in response to a middle school student who was sexually abused by a teacher following communication on Facebook.

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To the more than 600 million members of Facebook and the expanding legions of Twitter users, you can add a growing number of schools and districts. Whether communicating with parents and the public, enhancing classroom instruction and staff development, or rallying school spirit, administrators and teachers are beginning to leverage the interactive and multimedia features of social networks that have the added advantage of being widely and easily accessible—and free.

Among the many challenges facing district leaders, student safety can be particularly difficult as new technologies allow for instant and constant communication. Recent tragic events, most notably the suicide of a Rutgers University student after an intimate sexual encounter was broadcast live via the Internet without his knowledge or permission, have brought increased attention and awareness of the danger of misuse of these technologies. But what can school districts do to protect students and staff without violating their constitutional rights?

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