When nearly 500 students at Edinburgh Community High School and the middle school got their own iPads and Chromebooks, they came armed with an alert system.
The school technology director had created a setting that would alert officials if a student used a curse word in an email or overrode the internet filter.
Within a few months, the technology director was getting hundreds of emails per day, and disciplining every student wasn’t possible.
The school gave up on policing curse words used in emails, and started focusing on making sure students aren’t looking at pornography or sending inappropriate photos. The changes are part of the process schools go through after they give students their own devices that have to be maintained and monitored. At Center Grove, the number of instances of inappropriate photos on iPads is what one administrator is calling an alarming issue.
Recently, an elementary school student tried to see if there was a website named after her. There was, but it was a pornography site.
Under Edinburgh’s school rules, the girl could have had her internet privileges or device taken away, but officials knew she had looked up the site innocently, so she wasn’t punished, Edinburgh technology director Bob Straugh said.
By comparison, at Franklin schools, officials are dealing with issues involving inappropriate websites or images, such as nude photos, weekly. At least one student per week has to get a verbal warning or a detention for having inappropriate images on their Chromebooks, assistant principal Scott Martin said. About two students per school year have their email disabled since they’ve sent too many inappropriate messages to other students, Martin said.
“A lot of people don’t realize it doesn’t matter what the intent was, but how it was perceived,” Martin said.
One of the first step schools took when giving their students devices was to only allow school-affiliated email addresses to come through to students’ inboxes or disable the cameras so children couldn’t take selfies and send them to friends.
School districts’ web filters can block anything from websites with excessive nudity, inappropriate images or even app downloads to ensure that students are using their school’s iPads, Chromebooks or laptops for educational purposes. Each school district has a varying web filter. For example, if a Franklin student tries to open a “Family Guy” link, administrators will get an email saying that the website was listed as vulgar, Martin said.
When a student is abusing the privilege by emailing inappropriate photos or visiting a website they shouldn’t, they can be given a verbal warning, detention or out-of-school suspension. If a student goes to an inappropriate website, tries to download an app, overrides the schools’ web filter or sends a raunchy photo of a classmate, school officials are alerted via email almost immediately.
Since the electronic devices are school-owned, administrators can search through iPads or Chromebooks. For example, the Center Grove High School deans of students regularly scroll through students’ iPads to make sure they haven’t downloaded games or social media apps, said dean of students Ryan Williamson.
“Anybody that comes into our office, we’re going to search,” Williamson said. “We’re going to take a look at that and make sure it’s being used appropriately.”
While the majority of students are using the devices correctly, Center Grove administrators have to talk to a few students per week for having photos or apps downloaded on their iPads.
“We’re not talking about a 50 percent problem, but we’re saying it is an alarming issue,” Williamson said. “The inappropriate images are probably what we see more often and comes across our desks, in regards that it jumps immediately to an out-of-school suspension.”
If a student is caught going to vulgar websites, downloading games or sharing dirty photos to their peers, the consequences can range from a verbal warning from administrators, to having a meeting with parents at school or getting out-of-school suspension. In the most extreme cases, or if a student repeatedly breaks the rules, he or she could be expelled.
But Center Grove officials are asking parents to check their children’s laptops or iPads so administrators don’t need to punish them at school. If a child knows that their parent will regularly look through images on their iPads, then students will be not as likely to have vulgar or banned content on their school devices, Williamson said.
Every school district has different rules and discipline for when students go to an inappropriate website or send vulgar or inappropriate photos to their peers. Here’s a look at how each school district handles violations on school-owned devices such as iPads or laptops:
Center Grove Community High School
– If an inappropriate picture is sent to a student and they don’t delete it immediately, the teenager faces up to three days of out-of-school suspension.
– If the student sends the photo to another student, the student faces three to five days of out-of-school suspension.
– If the student took the picture or edited a photo and sent it to others, their punishment could be five days out-of-school suspension or expulsion, depending on the severity
Edinburgh Community High School
– On the first offense, the student receives a verbal warning
– For the second offense, depending on the severity, the principal will decide if the student receives a detention, out-of-school suspension or expulsion
Franklin Community High School
– For a minor offense, students will receive a verbal warning
– For a steeper offense, a student could lose internet privileges, lose their school email access or have their Chromebook taken away
– If a more severe incident occurs, a student could receive detention, out-of-school suspension or expulsion
Indian Creek High School
– If a student has an inappropriate image on their device, they could get up to three days of out-of-school suspension
– If the student forwarded the image to another peer, he or she could receive up to 10 days of out-of-school suspension
– In extreme cases, a student could be recommended for expulsion
*NOTE: Greenwood and Clark-Pleasant do not give every high school student a school-owned device.