Tuesday October 9, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- A meeting scheduled by the Athens/Grafton Joint Contract Board of School Directors to approve new technology protocol may turn into a first reading.

A policy on acceptable use of electronic resources and the Internet has been drafted and can be adopted by each of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union’s boards -- Athens/Grafton, Bellows Falls Union High School, Rockingham and Westminster -- if the members so choose. The BFUHS board already approved the new policy but Rockingham pointed out a conflict after a slightly edited version had been sent to the Athens/Grafton board.

The board had warned a meeting for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, at Grafton Elementary School to adopt the policy.

School Superintendent Chris Kibbe said the wording of a sentence had been changed before it was sent to the Athens/Grafton board, creating a contradiction later on in the document. He said the same version sent to the BFUHS board will now be given to the one for Athens/Grafton. But, because it will be a different policy in their possession than the one the board warned for adoption, the session will likely become a first reading so members can become familiar with it.

Kibbe said he e-mailed Stephen L. Fine, the chairman of the Athens/Grafton board, to tell him he would send a different policy. Fine told the Reformer his e-mail has been down recently but said a first reading is likely to occur at the Oct. 11 meeting.

Kibbe said the board will probably warn a meeting on Monday, Nov. 8, to approve the policy for adoption if its members are happy with it. He stressed that there is already in place a policy regarding electronic resources and the Internet and that this would simply be an update.

The policy states BFUHS uses electronic technologies, including the Internet, to allow students the benefit of information resources and opportunities and to enhance professional development of staff. It is intended to guarantee compliance with the requirements of state and federal laws that regulate the access to the Internet and other electronic resources by the school district.

The policy applies definitions to child pornography as well as images deemed harmful to minors, and defines a minor as any individual less than 18-and-a-half years old.

It states all users of technology within the school district are expected to "act in a responsible, ethical and legal manner" and prohibits anyone from using disparaging, abusive or profane language, sending e-mail or other communications that hide the sender’s identity, using the Internet in a way that disturbs others or engaging in any obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive material.

The policy allows electronic resources to be used for limited personal use. Kibbe said there is no problem with someone checking weather.com but the downloading of any movies is banned.

David M. Clark, chairman of the BFUHS board, said there was nothing too interesting or eye-catching in the new policy.