Purchasing web filtering is a necessity in schools, for student safety, CIPA compliance, AUP adherence, and network security.
Gary L. Brantley (Chief Information Officer)
As we move to focus more on enablement and safety for teachers and students through technology, we are committed to enhance the educational experience while providing a safe environment at the same tim.
A web filter is software designed to restrict the websites a user can visit. Our current web filter doesn’t provide the versatility or safety components needed. In the past, teachers had to request from the IT department to unblock websites causing a huge delay. Teachers will now be able to unblock most sites.
We were also looking to increase safety by finding a solution that reports suspicious or irregular activities. This tool will provide weekly reports to principals on suspicious searches conducted by students and staff like “Explosives” and “Suicide” to name a few. This will allow the principals to be more proactive.
Dr. Tinsley (Director, Support Services- Department of Guidance, Counseling, and Mentoring)
We work to assist students socially, emotionally, academically in both proactive and reactive ways. The filtering and reporting solution will help us target students that may need our intervention to deter destructive behaviors.
The reports provided by the software will allow district officials to identify common websites that students may try to access. Identifying interest or involvement in potentially harmful behaviors that could impact student development.
The filtering capability will allow us to look at many demographic indicators that can be used to target our prevention efforts.
Dr. Michael Erwin
How easily and quickly can we update the keywords on the filtering list?
If something came to us, we could push it out immediately. We are absolutely going to block everything, which makes it easy for us. Now, it enables the teacher to unblock what they need to.
Would this be used for the employees as well as students? What is the filtering policy?
The plan is to block everything for everybody. Everyone will have access to unblock. For example, a central office employee, your credentials to log in to your computer are your credentials to bypass the filter. So, you’ll have a 4 hour period to bypass the filter. Once the period ends, it closes off. It’s not just for the schoolhouse, it’s for the entire district.
Will we still monitor the employees?
It applies to staff as well. Just because you bypass it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get recorded and reported. We will immediately get notified if certain sites are bypassed. IT will be the eyes and ears, but we are giving flexibility back to the staff.
Will this be done in conjunction with law enforcement? Where do we get these standards? Where does safety cross over into violation of privacy?
The filters will have trigger words. For example, “hanging game” or other words that might indicate harm. These triggers would notify us and help us identify clusters and help us target our efforts to those students more appropriately. Since we have the login information, we would know exactly who is accessing what.
It’s a thin line you’re talking about, the law enforcement piece. From safe schools and out public safety department being involved, they would navigate that part. From our end, we just want to be proactive. It’s a great litmus test to know exactly what our students are doing and thinking about that we may not be aware of.
Will this also work on personal devices in schools?
Brantley – Yes
Will you be able to identify a student’s device when they access the network. Like when they shut down access for CRCTs … let’s say when they go off the grid, we have an accountability measure in place to identify the device that actually accessed it?
A big surprise is coming. It’s awaiting our students when they return. All devices will have to be registered to access the network, even if you’re a guest or parent.