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BOE to update computer policy

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved a new computer use policy that will have students facing disciplinary action when they use school computers inappropriately.

"Every student will be given the privilege to use computer resources as part of the educational mission of the school system," reads the Acceptable Use portion of the new Use of Computers/Communication Resources policy. "The privilege to use computer resources may be suspended or revoked, and the student may face disciplinary action if the student exhibits behavior that constitutes 'unacceptable use.'"

The policy, IFBG, was last updated April 22, 2003. Before that, it was updated in November 2001 and January 1999; it was created in May 1996.

Previously, the Acceptable Use section read: "Users will receive the privilege of using the computer resources in support of academic activities. The student and his/her parent/guardian will be required to sign an Acceptable Use Contract prior to the use of Electronic Networks."

The new policy requires that parents sign a form if they don't want their children to use school computers.

The new policy also prohibits students from accessing Web sites to play games and the like, unless approved by building administrators or the student's teacher, according to the Unacceptable Use section of the policy.

Computer bullying also is addressed in the policy.

"A user shall not use the computer resources of the school system to bully or to threaten a student or staff member," reads the new section of the policy. "If a user bullies or threatens a student or employee of the school system by using technology resources outside the school system, including but not limited to social networking sites, and this action materially or substantially disrupts the learning environment of the school, that user may be subject to disciplinary action or may be turned over to law enforcement officials."

The Newton County School System felt adding this new section was necessary considering the popularity of Internet social networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook among school-aged children.

Sections dealing with hacking, vandalism, obscenity, theft, plagiarism and substitute teacher usage also make up the policy, which can be found on the school system's Web site, www.newtoncountyschools

.org.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd @newtoncitizen.com.