WCPSS Expands The “Bring Your Own Device” Program – What Parents Should Know

Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) has expanded the ‘bring your own device’ program. More schools will now be added to the list where the program is being employed.

I figured some sort of privacy policy or monitoring would also be in existence, so I asked News and Observer reporter, Keung Hui:

The answer was yes. Parents allowing their child to bring their own device need to consent to let the school monitor their child’s activities:

What that monitoring means is WCPSS will require parental consent for kids bringing their own device so that school officials can discipline the child if they are using the device for non-school related reasons. Examples would likely be something like using Facebook, Twitter, gaming websites or viewing inappropriate websites or videos.

Mr. Hiu provided the link to the ‘technology responsible use‘ section from the State Board policy manual.  It’s brief and contains useful information for parents.

Section D is the Parental Consent section. On top of the monitoring of websites, the parent has to agree to allow monitoring the child’s e-mail too?

The section reads as follows, emphasis added:

The board recognizes that parents of minors are responsible for setting and conveying the standards their children should follow when using media and information sources. Accordingly, before a student may independently access the Internet, the student’s parent must be made aware of the possibility that the student could obtain access to inappropriate material while engaged in independent use of the Internet. The parent and student must consent to the student’s independent access to the Internet and to monitoring of the student’s Internet activity and e-mail communication by school personnel.

In addition, in accordance with the board’s goals and visions for technology, students may require accounts in third party systems for school related projects designed to assist students in mastering effective and proper online communications or to meet other educational goals. Parental permission will be obtained when necessary to create and manage such third party accounts.

This last paragraph is basically telling parents your kid might use a third party website and be asked for personal information to set up an account to use it.  That third party will have a privacy and data use policy all its own. It’s nice they state they will ask your permission, that’s actually kind of a first in my experience.  I’ve had teachers sign their class up for “free” apps without even telling the parents before.

Parents need to consider that not only is the school tracking the child, now a third party vendor might possibly be too. If the app claims it is “Free”, that is a big tip off that this third party vendor is very likely logging your child’s every click and selling that data to someone else. This often includes their IP address. Caveat Emptor!

Read the privacy statement section. This section mainly seems to apply to school owned technology, but if applied to the ‘bring your own device’ program, anything your kid does while on the school network is fair game. “Without notice” the school can “monitor, track, and/or log network access, communications, and use;“.

Consider if you, the parent, used that device that is now going to school with your child. Will the school be able to look at your activity like website browsing history?  Sure, why not?

If it were me allowing my child to participate, I would be wiping all history for all users profiles and of all the apps off the device. Daily. I’d also be checking to see what was accessed, when and by whom each day.

The Friday Institute keeps coming up when it comes to digital learning.  According to the WCPSS FAQ on the program, “WCPSS is working in partnership with the NC State University Friday Institute to offer professional development for BYOD teachers.” 

RELATED – How School Provided Tablets in Guilford County NC Gave Students X-rated Access: Parent does the right thing, principal tells officer to arrest father

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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