South Carolina district considering bring your own technology policy

Rock Hill school district officials will propose to the school board that elementary and middle school students be allowed to use their own laptops, smart phones and tablet computers in class, says a Rock Hill Herald report the Charlotte Observer. Officials believe that such a policy would allow more teachers could tap into the latest education technology.

District officials want students with devices at home to have the option to switch them on in class. That would free up schools’ limited number of Netbooks, iPods and iPads for students without access to them. “We want to have a one-to-one (one device for each student) environment, but we don’t have a funding source,” Associate Superintendent Luanne Kokolis said. Parents would have to sign a permission form exempting the district from blame in case a device breaks in order for students to use computers from home. Use would be restricted to classes where teachers use mobile devices in their lessons, Kokolis said.

Current policy allows students in elementary and middle school to bring devices; but they may not turn them on during the school day. High school students may use them before and after school and during lunch.

Source: Charlotte Observer, 3/12/12, By By Shawn Cetrone (Rock Hill Herald)

[Editor’s Note: This proposal represents a shift in thinking by school districts. In the past, as Rock Hill’s current policy attests, the most students could hope for would be that the district allowed them to bring the technology with them to school provided it stayed out of sight and turned off.

Concern about sexting and cyberbullying has lead a number of districts to adopt policies allowing school administrators to confiscate and search student cell phones. See Legal Clips’ summary of an August 2010 news report from KOMO News on Oak Harbor School District in Washington state.

In March 2011, LegalClips summarized a Texas federal district court magistrate’s ruling in Mendoza v. Klein Ind. Sch. Dist. determining that a student had stated a valid Fourth Amendment claim against an associate principal who searched the contents of her cell phone after confiscating it on suspicion that the student was using the phone in violation of school district policy.]

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