Appropriate Usage Agreements

The following Appropriate Usage Agreements were developed by a committee within the Montgomery County Public School System, in Virginia, for use by students at various grade levels.


Index:


Using the Internet at [Name of School] Grades 2-5

If I read these pages carefully, and [after] my mother or father signs the second sheet, I may be allowed to use a computer at [Name of School] to look at the Internet and send messages to people around the world. But I also know that if I do not use the Internet in the right way, my teacher or Principal may need to punish me. In fact, I may not be allowed to use the Internet again at school.

I will read the rules for using the Internet that are given below and will ask an adult at my school if I do not understand what any of them mean.

Student's Agreement (for Students in the Second Grade or Above)

I have read the information that is written above. If I did not understand the meaning of part of it, I asked an adult to explain it to me. I agree to follow these rules at all times when I use the Internet at school.

______________________________
Signature

______________________________
Date

Parent or Guardian

My son or daughter, who has signed above, understands the rules that he or she is to follow in using the Internet at school. I have talked to him or her to make sure that those rules are understood. I realize that teachers and other school officials will try their best to provide only educationally-sound material from the Internet to my child and that, should objectionable pictures or information appear by accident, they will take immediate action to correct that situation. I give my permission to Montgomery County Public Schools for my son or daughter to use the Internet while on school property.

______________________________
Signature

______________________________
Date


Acceptable Use Policy for Internet Access Grades 6-12

With the permission of your parent or guardian, [Name of School] offers you an opportunity to use the Internet at school. We expect you to use the Internet while in our building only for educational purposes approved by [Name of School]. This use is a privilege, not a right, and we may discipline you or take away your right to use the Internet at school if you misuse this privilege. You are responsible for your own actions while you are on the Internet at [Name of School] and are also accountable for any online activities that occur by others because you have allowed them to use your account.

As a student, you should read the following regulations and then sign this form to show that you understand your responsibilities in using the Internet at this school.

While using the Internet from school properties,

Student's Agreement

I have read the Acceptable Use Policy for Internet Access, as written above, and understand fully and agree to follow the principles and guidelines it contains.

______________________________
Signature

______________________________
Date

Parent's Agreement

As the parent or guardian of this student, I have read the Acceptable Use Policy for Internet Access as written above. I understand that Internet access at school for students of Montgomery County Public Schools is provided for educational purposes only. I understand that employees of the school system will make every reasonable effort to restrict access to all controversial material on the Internet, but I will not hold them responsible for materials my son or daughter acquires or sees as a result of the use of the Internet from school facilities. I give my permission to [Name of School] to allow the student above to use the Internet on computers at the school.

______________________________
Signature

______________________________
Date


Policy Statement for the Publishing of Documents on the Internet/World Wide Web Montgomery County Public Schools Fall - 1997

During the past two years, many teachers, administrators, and students have expressed an interest in creating hypertext markup language (HTML) documents for publishing on the Internet/World Wide Web. From this interest has come one of the largest sets of Web pages of any school system in the nation. These pages deal with both district-wide and local school matters. They publicize our accomplishments and provide information about ongoing activities. This explosion of locally-produced sites on the World Wide Web, however, has occurred quickly and without a clear district-wide policy concerning the nature of the information that should be provided within individual Web sites.

This document, produced in the winter and spring of 1997 by a committee of administrators, teachers, and members of the community, is the first step in setting this policy. The guidelines expressed in this document are in effect as of the first day of the 1997-1998 session and will be modified as needed throughout the year. The publishing, distribution, and modification of this document will be the responsibility of the Office of Technology. Changes in policy will occur only after sufficient input from schools and the community.

Montgomery County Public Schools encourages each school to post and maintain its own Web pages. Not only does it promote the publication of Web pages by employees, but it also encourages the same by students. Recent SOL changes even require students to publish on the World Wide Web, or on an internal Intranet system, before they can graduate from high school. The following policy should be followed by all individuals and schools who publish on the World Wide Web where the information being published originates from a school- or district-maintained Web server, or from any server currently in use by the school system (such as the one provided by the Blacksburg Electronic Village).

On-line Images of Students in Grades PK-8

Images with the focus on either one or two students will not be placed on a Web site. Pictures of three or more students, such as a class picture, are permitted.

For any picture of three or more students that is published on the Web, neither first nor last names of the students shown in those pictures are to be included with the image or in accompanying text. Where text on a page is not associated with an accompanying image, only first names of students may be used.

Schools need the permission of parents in order to publish student pictures on the World Wide Web; however, they may issue a blanket permission form for parents to indicate that they do not agree to the publication online of their children's images. Schools should never publish an image, in addition, without the direct permission of the students in that image.

On-line Images of Students in Grades 9-12

Pictures of students in grades 9-12 may be published without regard for whether those images contain one, two, or a group of individuals; however, school still need the permission of the parent(s), and the student(s) in the picture, to publish such images on the World Wide Web. Students may be identified by first name, last name, or both.

Intellectual Property Rights

Schools must protect individual rights concerning the publishing of student-produced work, such as poems, short stories, and art. Not only should a school have the permission of the student for such publications, but parents must also agree. As for the posting of pictures of students, a blanket permission form may be used.

Before posting student-generated work, schools must take reasonable care that the content of that work is owned solely by the student. Plagiarism in any form is not permitted.

Responsibilities of the School

The Office of Technology will assist in any way possible to resolve conflicts in the publishing of World Wide Web pages by students and school system employees; however, each school must assume the ultimate responsibility for determining the content to be posted online. For this purpose, each school shall establish an Internet Use Committee. This committee shall review any complaints from students, teachers, administrators, other school staff, or members of the community concerning published work on school Web pages. This group will also address other issues, as they arise, concerning Internet use in its building.

The Internet Use Committee will review and approve all pages written by school employees and students and will make decisions about the appropriateness of content and links before they pages are posted to a Web server. The committee should review school pages periodically. Should there be inappropriate material already on the school site prior to the formation of the committee, this organization should ask for that material to be deleted or changed as quickly as possible.

Discipline in all schools is the responsibility of individual teachers and Principals. It is not intended that the Internet Use Committee in any school, nor the Office of Technology, should have disciplinary powers unless those powers are given it through the Principal and/or the school's site-based committee.

Privacy Rights Regarding Electronic Mail

The following steps need to be taken by each school to insure the privacy of electronic mail access:

Web Page Content

The Internet Use Committee at each school should review carefully the content included on its own Web pages. These pages not only should be attractive in appearance, and in good taste, but they should be maintained with up-to-date and accurate information. The committee should consider the following when judging the appropriateness of content:

Miscellaneous Policy Statements

The use of electronic mail or Web research by students and employees is encouraged. The guidelines for using e-mail from school facilities is outlined clearly in the district's Acceptable Use Policy for Internet Use. Each school's Internet Use Committee, however, should ask colleagues to monitor carefully other uses of the World Wide Web. Montgomery County Public Schools provides access to the Internet for educational purposes only. Neither students nor employees should use the school network during school hours for non-educational activities. Those activities include chat rooms, MUDs, MOOs, online games or contests, lotteries, etc. The Internet Use Committee may permit students to engage in chat rooms, MUDs, or MOOs during school hours when those activities are for educational purposes and are under the direct supervision of an employee. No such activities are ever to be permitted in an area of a school that may not be under direct supervision, such as in media centers.

Miscellaneous Questions and Answers Concerning this Policy

Q: I have a picture of an elementary school student using a computer. In the background are several other students. May I use this image on a Web page?
A: No. If the focus of the picture is a single PK-8 student, or two PK-8 students, the presence of others in the background (who are obviously not featured as a focus of the image), you may not use the picture on a Web Page.

Q: I have a picture of four PK-5 students sitting together at a table. Two of these individuals are looking on as the other two are working on a project. Can I publish this picture on a Web page?
A: The answer is yes, if the two additional students have some role in the creation of the project. If one reasonably could assume from looking at the picture, for example, that all four students are collectively involved in working on the project (and thus are vital parts of the image) then the picture is acceptable for publishing.

Q: We just took a group picture of my fifth grade class. Since there are so many students shown in the picture, can I list all of their names under the picture on the Web page?
A: No. Neither first nor last names of students can be associated with a picture of a PK-8 student on a Web page.

Q: I have four pictures of individual students in my sixth grade class. Can I simply place them side by side on the same Web page?
A: No. Doing so violates the spirit of this policy. You will need to redesign your pages to use images of three or more students.

Q: I see that we can use blanket permission forms so that parents can agree to allow the publishing of student pictures on a Web page. Can we write the form so that parents will need to return the form only if they object to the publishing of their children's' pictures on the Web?
A: That decision is left to the discretion of the school administration.

Q: A parent asked me to publish her third grade son's Haiku poem on, or link it from, the class Web page. Unfortunately, the student himself objects. What should I do?
A: Do not publish the poem without both the parent's and the student's permission.

Q: I am proud of the fact that one of my fifth grade students actually created a Web page. Can I link that page to our Web site?
A: Normally, yes, because we encourage the publication of student work. The state SOLs, in addition, require students to publish HTML documents online. You should make certain, however, that any picture on this page complies with the policy discussed under "Online Images of Students in Grades PK-8 and that is done in good taste and meets reasonable standards associated with the student's ability. Do not publish work, even from a student, that reflects badly upon the standards of your school.

Q: How many people should serve on the Internet Use Committee in each school and do we need to include teachers, aides, administrators, and/or students in any particular combination?
A: Committees are established by each individual school in the manner in which they choose. Committees of one, or even of two persons, generally are not effective. Please use at least three persons for this group. Students may be members of the committee if you wish.

Q: One of my tenth grade students created a page endorsing the use of marijuana. He wants to link it to our school's home page under student work. Should we link this page?
A: The Internet Use Committee should make this decision. The Policy Committee's intent was to prohibit any publication of (or linking to) any page which would be unacceptable in an educational setting. For example, was the content of the student page illegal or immoral in nature? In this case, the Internet Use Committee might look to see if the student's page was written as part of an assigned classroom project and determine if it indicates on the page that the content represents one side of the marijuana use debate. If so, the Internet Use Committee may determine that the page is of educational value and permit it to be published.

Q: A student came to me with a page she wanted to link to our class pages. It is already online on a server that is not owned by the school system. I checked the page she wanted to link to and found that the page itself was acceptable, but that it linked to a site on cults that I really did not think was appropriate for access by students. Should I permit this link.
A: Make your major decision based on the page to be linked. Is that particular page objectionable in any way? For example, if it links to one or more pornographic sites (, you might not want to allow the linking of that page from your class site. This question is not an easy one. Internet Use Committees will vary in the ways and for what reasons they make their decisions. Simply use your best judgement.

Q: I really don't want my electronic mail address on any database kept by anyone in the county. Do I have to participate? Do I even have to accept an e-mail account if it's created for me?
A: It is a reasonable request for your school or district administration to ask you to accept an electronic mail address to be used only for educational purposes. As access to county-wide networks becomes more available to our staff, we would like to have the resources to communicate quickly and more effectively that we do now. We will never reach a "paperless" school system; however, electronic mail is an efficient way of connecting people and information. Please remember that electronic mail itself is not intrusive nor objectionable unless it is misused. The school system and your school will never allow electronic mail addresses to be released to anyone without your permission. It also will not burden you unnecessarily by sending you constant or useless mail that is not relevant to the educational process.

Q: My electronic mail address is provided through America Online (AOL). Can I ask that my e-mail address not be present on a school- wide or district-wide e-mail database?
A: Yes; however, please remember that electronic mail databases are never distributed either outside the school district nor to individuals inside the district without your permission. Such databases are kept solely to provide you with information which you may need as part of your professional career. Should the school system create an account for you which is based on a district-owned mail server, the system reserves the right to keep your address on that database for the purpose of information gathering and distribution for employees throughout the district.

Q: I don't mind one of my e-mail accounts being created on a district- owned server, but what will you do about "spamming" (the unsolicited sending of electronic mail) for my account?
A: If an employee's account is one available to receive public mailings, the school system will make a genuine effort to provide "spamming filters" or other software/hardware to prevent the unwanted invasion of your privacy.

Q: I want my students to use a chat room but worry about their conduct while using the room and whether other students or adults online with them are behaving properly. I've heard that some chat rooms, for example, contain cursing or abusive language. What should I do?
A: The use of a chat room, or of MUDs and MOOs (two other ways that students can interact in real time) is at the discretion of the teachers and administration of a school. The official policy simply asks that students not access those types of sites without supervision, since a few of these chat, MUD, and MOO areas contain objectionable content and language.

Q: My school is thinking of setting up a chat room on our Web site for use by students and staff. Under this policy, can I establish a chat room? If so, are there any restrictions on usage?
A: Chat rooms are not necessarily bad. Many of them, in fact, serve educationally sound purposes. Schools may build a chat room into their own Web sites. If you do so for your school, make sure that you develop a comprehensive plan for the use of your chat room so that the room is monitored by staff and benefits positively the educational program. When in doubt, consult the Office of Technology for advice.

Q: So what about newsgroups? Are all newsgroups "safe" for students, or educationally-sound tools to use in our school?
A: Most newsgroups are acceptable for students to use. Simply screen their use occasionally to determine whether content is appropriate. No newsgroup beginning with "alt" should be allowed, since these newsgroups are not moderated and often contain topics to which students should not be exposed during school hours.

Q: What should I do if I see a page posted by another school that seems to be in bad taste, or is simply in violation of this policy?
A: Please contact the Office of Technology with that information. Their personnel will look at the pages and contact the Internet Use Committee at the school hosting the offending site. An alternate method would be to contact the person whose name appears on the school's home page as the one who is responsible for maintaining the site. Generally, that name is linked to an electronic mail address and a simple e-mail message to that person, with an explanation of the problem, should do. Remember that although all schools will try to adhere to this policy, unacceptable pages may be posted occasionally by accident.

Q: I have a student who has developed a Web page based on a project I assigned in class. He has downloaded images for his page that have come from other pages on the World Wide Web. What should I do?
A: When a student puts a downloaded image on his or her page, permission to do so must have been obtained from the person who owns the page from which the image was taken. That permission may be given via e-mail and is often gained simply by send an e-mail request to the person who has developed the page where the image is located.

Q: Your parts of the policy concerning pictures of students and permission from parents may give us some problems. We already have some violations of this policy on our school pages. For example, we have pictures of elementary school students in costume, participating in a play. We also have posted some student poems, and now the students who wrote those poems have moved on to another grade (perhaps outside our school) with another teacher. That makes permission slips from parents difficult to obtain. What do we do?
A: Because of these problems, and because the images now posted undoubtedly will be taken offline soon as other pictures are posted, we will establish a "grandfather clause" to protect all present pictures and student work. For school pages published prior to August 25, 1997, the opening day of school, schools will have one semester (until the first day of the second semester of the 1997-1998 session) to conform to this policy. The Office of Technology, however, urges schools to make the changes as quickly as possible.


Committee Members


For more information, please contact:

Larry W. Arrington, Ed.D. - Supervisor of Technology - (540) 382-5130 Montgomery County Public Schools - 200 Junkin Street - FAX: (540) 381-6189 Christiansburg, VA 24073 - larringt@bev.net - larringt@pen.k12.va.us


Last updated 97/09/02