The National Education Association has determined that an effective Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) contains six elements: a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violations/sanctions section.  Jefferson County School District has written an Acceptable Use Policy.  This blog will compare Jefferson County’s AUP to the six elements that have been suggested by the National Education Association. 

Preamble

The preamble should contain information about why the AUP is needed, its goals, and the process for developing the AUP.  Jefferson County’s AUP does contain a preamble.  Jefferson County’s preamble begins by explaining that they will offer internet access to all stakeholders.  The document goes on to discuss that it is a legal document and it must be signed by students and parents before students have access to computers and/or network and before internet access will be granted.  Jefferson County’s AUP does not explicitly address the three components that should be addressed in the preamble.  There is not information given about why the AUP is needed.  It seems that the why piece has been omitted and instead the focus is on that the document is a legal document that must be signed in order for students to use computers and internet.  The goals for the AUP are not addressed in the preamble and the process for developing the AUP was not discussed. 

A definition Section

The purpose of the definition section is to define key words that will be used and addressed in the district or school’s AUP.  This is a key component to an AUP as it helps to ensure student and parent understanding of what is being addressed or discussed within the AUP.  Jefferson County’s AUP does not have a definition section.  Directly after the preamble, the document moves into a section on personal safety.  This section discusses how the internet will or will not be used by internet users and the school district.  Ideas about the sharing of personal information are among some of the safety ideas discussed under this section.   A definition section is absent from the entire document and definitions are not given or addressed anywhere within the document. 

Policy Statement

The policy statement of an AUP explains what computer services are covered under the AUP and the circumstances under which the students can use these services.  Jefferson County’s AUP does not directly have a policy statement.  Embedded within the AUP the district addresses the use of computers and internet as the services that are covered under the AUP.  No specific services are addressed.  The district has a section entitled “System Resources” in their AUP.  This section addresses some of the circumstances under which students can use the computer and internet as resources. 

An Acceptable Uses Section

Under this section of an AUP, the writers would explain the acceptable uses of computer services.  The Jefferson County AUP does not contain an acceptable uses section.   The “System Resources” section and the “User Rights” section does include some information regarding the acceptable use of the computer network.  For example, under the “System Resources” section, the district has determined that the computer network will only be used for career and educational purposes.  Under the “User Rights” section it states that the user shall have the responsibility to use computer resources for academic purposes.  Both sections go on to discuss ways in which the user will or will not utilize the network.  For example, the “System Resources” section states that users will notify teachers and/or administration when inappropriate materials are being accessed using district computers and/or internet.   

An Unacceptable Uses Section

The AUP should address the unacceptable uses of internet and computer systems.  Under this section, the writers of the AUP should address what types of sites are off limits to students, what type of information should be prohibited, and what type of student behavior should be restricted.  The Jefferson County School District does include an Unacceptable Uses section in their AUP.  In addition some of the information that should be included in this section can also be found in the “System Resources” and “User Rights” sections.  Although Jefferson County has included an “Unacceptable Uses” section, they have not covered the recommended information within that section.  Their “Unacceptable Uses” section includes information on the purpose for utilizing a computer network (for educational purposes), limits on days, times, and hours that the resources can be used, and use of the system is contingent on parent or guardian permission.  The section also explains that users are responsible for maintaining email accounts and that information found under student profiles is not private.  There is an “Illegal and/or Unacceptable Usage” section.  This section explicitly defines unacceptable ways in which users shall not use the system.  This section includes the unacceptable use of copyrighted materials, violence, and illegal materials.  Additionally the section addresses the downloading of shareware or freeware and harassment of others. 

Violations/Sanctions Section

This section should include information on how to report violations of the AUP.  Jefferson County did include a “Consequences” section.  Under this section the writers of the AUP indicate that consequences can be handed out for individuals that violate or fail to follow the district’s AUP.  The section also lists some of the consequences that may be put into place including payment for damages, denial of computer or internet access, suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary actions.  This section explains that law enforcement involvement may occur if any state or federal violations happen. 

Overall it seems that the Jefferson County AUP does have some of the components that the National Education Association has deemed important to include in an Acceptable Use Policy.  It is clear that Jefferson County is missing some important components, such as a definition section.  Jefferson County has also added some of their own sections including a “Safety Guidelines” section. 

Views: 134

Comment by Melissa Quinn on January 25, 2014 at 2:09pm

LeeAnna,

Your district AUP sounds very similar to my district's AUP.  Did you find that your district AUP was like a legal document and not written for student understanding?  

I also found that most of the AUPs I researched did not explain the process for developing the policy.  Why do you think this is omitted from most AUPs?

Melissa

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