skip to main content

HCPSS / POLICIES

Policy 8080 – Responsible Use of Technology, Digital Tools, and Social Media

The purpose of this policy is to define expectations for individuals regarding the responsible use of technology, digital tools, and social media for HCPSS-sponsored programs.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to providing equitable access to technology and digital tools to further the strategic goals of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS). The Board believes that technology should be leveraged to improve instruction, business operations and communications. The Board acknowledges that social media can be used to enhance student and stakeholder engagement, facilitate collaborative communications, and increase global connections. The Board expects that all individuals will act in a responsible, civil, ethical, and appropriate manner when using technology, digital tools, and social media.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to define expectations for individuals regarding the responsible use of technology, digital tools, and social media for HCPSS-sponsored programs.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Account Credentials – Any data or object used for the purpose of gaining access (authenticating) to an electronic system, usually a username and password combination.

  2. Authenticate/Authentication – Verification of an individual’s identity through username/password or other mechanism.

  3. Confidential Data – Individual, fact, statistic or item of information whereby access is restricted based on least privilege.

  4. Digital Tool – Any website, application (app), or software that requires an account.

    1. Essential Digital Tool – A Superintendent/designee-approved digital tool necessary to deliver educational programs and operational services.

    2. Supplemental Digital Tool – A Superintendent/designee-approved digital tool used as non-essential enrichment to students’ educational experience.

  5. Digital Resource – Teacher-selected digital content that does not require a student and/or teacher account to access.

  6. HCPSS-Sponsored Program – An activity, event or meeting developed or organized by HCPSS with the knowledge and approval of the associated school principal and/or Superintendent/designee that is under the direction and control of an authorized HCPSS employee, where HCPSS assumes full responsibility and liability for the program, event or action. This includes the instructional day.

  7. Network – The means of transmitting data between computer systems; includes wired and wireless technologies.

  8. Online Resource – Any website, application (app), or software that does not require an account.

  9. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or control over the student but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care) or has been issued a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Verification of Release form entering into a custodial arrangement with the federal government.

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  10. Personal Technology Device – Any non-HCPSS device that may be used to send or receive data via voice, video or text. This includes, but is not limited to, mobile phones, e-readers, tablets, personal computers, wearable technology, video recorders or other devices equipped with microphones, speakers and/or cameras.

  11. Personally Identifiable Information – Any information that, alone or in combination, would make it possible to identify an individual with reasonable certainty.

  12. Social Media – Applications or platforms that enable users to create and share content, or to participate in social networking. Email and essential digital tools are excluded from this definition.

    1. HCPSS Social Media Account – Created and/or used by an employee or office for HCPSS business or HCPSS-sponsored programs.

    2. Personal Social Media Account – Used by an employee for non-HCPSS business.

  13. Software – Any application or script that can be executed on a computer system, server, or other electronic device.

  14. Technology – Electronic devices, network infrastructure, or applications including but not limited to software, online resources, digital tools, social media, and email.

  15. Terms of Service – Rules and notification written by a service provider that individuals must agree to in order to use the service.

IV. Standards

  1. General

    1. The use of technology, digital tools, and social media may not interfere with student or employee work, cause disruptions to the school or work environment, result in additional costs to HCPSS, or violate applicable laws or Board of Education policies, including but not limited to Policy 1000 Civility; Policy 1040 Safe and Supportive Schools; Policy 1060 Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation; Policy 2070 Ethics; Policy 3040 Technology Security; Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy; and Policy 7030 Employee Conduct and Discipline.

    2. An employee’s use of personal social media may not disrupt the work/school environment, impair their ability to perform their HCPSS duties effectively, undermine supervisory authority, and/or compromise working relationships within HCPSS schools and offices. Any postings by employees will not reference, link or contain statements that could be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating; that disparage students, employees, parents or community members; or that could be viewed as harassment or bullying.

    3. Access to technology and digital tools will be provided in accordance with this policy and with Policy 3040 Technology Security and Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy.

    4. All content transmitted through technology for HCPSS business, HCPSS- sponsored programs, and/or school-sponsored programs is subject to all relevant Board policies.

    5. All digital tools used with students for HCPSS-sponsored programs will be authorized before use in accordance with Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy and Policy 3040 Technology Security.

    6. HCPSS technology provided for instruction will be accessible to all students,

    7. HCPSS technology provided will be consistent with current student and employee roles and instructional requirements.

    8. Individuals will access HCPSS technology and digital tools using their own assigned account credentials, in accordance with Policy 3040 Technology Security.

    9. Individuals who use HCPSS-owned technology will take reasonable precautions to protect equipment against damage, theft, and/or loss. If necessary, individuals will follow the appropriate process and/or procedure for reporting damage, theft, and/or loss.

    10. Individuals who use HCPSS technology will secure and safeguard data stored, in accordance with Policy 3040 Technology Security.

    11. Individuals will not store confidential data, excluding the device owner’s personal information, on personal technology devices.

    12. Individuals assume full responsibility for their personal technology devices, including but not limited to, usage fees, upgrades, damages, and replacements.

  2. Compliance

    1. Electronic student and personnel records, as well as other student records and personally identifiable information, will be kept confidential and secure in accordance with Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy, Policy 7010 Personnel Records, Policy 9050 Student Records, and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

    2. All HCPSS technology, digital tools, and social media will comply with licensing and fair use agreements and applicable policies. Individuals will abide by Terms of Service and privacy policies.

    3. Digital tools approved for use with HCPSS-sponsored programs will comply with Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy as well as federal, state, and local student data privacy protections, including the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), and the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-131, Student Data Privacy Act of 2015.

    4. In order to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA):

      1. HCPSS will deploy technology that attempts to filter abusive, libelous, obscene, offensive, profane, threatening, sexually explicit, pornographic, illegal, or other inappropriate material that is harmful to minors.

      2. To the extent practical, employees will monitor students’ use of essential digital tools.

    5. In order to comply with the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, and Grace’s Law 2.0, Misuse of Electronic Communication, employees will provide instruction to students concerning responsible, appropriate, and civil online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social media, and cyberbullying awareness and response. (Policy 1060 Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, or Intimidation.)

    6. In conformance with the Maryland Username and Password Privacy Protection and Exclusion Act and the Annotated Code of Maryland, Labor and Employment Article, §3-712, employees are prohibited from requesting or requiring an employee or applicant for employment to disclose any account credentials used for accessing a personal social media account or service.

  3. Employee Use – Technology

    1. When using digital tools for instructional purposes or for HCPSS-sponsored programs, employees will only use HCPSS essential digital tools and supplemental digital tools.

    2. When using supplemental digital tools for instructional purposes or for HCPSS-sponsored programs, employees will notify parents of the tools they have chosen and parents will have the opportunity to opt-out of their student’s use of these tools.

    3. When using digital resources, employees will adhere to Policy 8040 Selection of Instructional Materials.

    4. When using any digital tools and/or resources, employees will provide alternative supports and materials when needed.

  4. Employee Use – Social Media

    1. HCPSS social media accounts are the property of HCPSS.

    2. Prior to creating an HCPSS social media account, employees must obtain their principal or supervisor’s written approval and provide administrative access to the account.

    3. If an employee’s job responsibilities change or employment is discontinued, the employee’s supervisor will reset administrative access to any social media accounts to which the employee had access.

    4. When using personal social media accounts, employees will adhere to Standard A.2. and will not share information to which they have access only as part of their official responsibilities as an HCPSS employee.

      1. This includes, but is not limited to, personally identifiable student or employee information and photographs.

      2. This does not include sharing publicly available information.

  5. Student Use – Technology

    1. When using online technology at any HCPSS location, students must authenticate to the HCPSS network, consistent with Policy 3040 Technology Security.

    2. When technology is necessary for instruction, HCPSS will provide devices for student use.

    3. HCPSS will not mandate that students provide their own technology at school.

    4. HCPSS permits students to bring personal technology devices to school, according to the following rules:

      1. Elementary Schools – Students will keep personal technology devices in backpacks during the school day, unless otherwise authorized by school administrators or instructional staff.

      2. Middle Schools – Students:

        1. Students will not use personal technology devices during non-instructional time, to include but not limited to transition between classes, lunch, recess, or in bathrooms.

        2. A school administrator may, on occasion, authorize the use of personal technology devices for special events and/or for positive behavioral supports and interventions.

      3. High Schools – Students:

        1. May only use personal technology devices during classroom instruction when allowed by instructional staff; and

        2. May use personal technology devices during non-instructional time (transitions between classes, lunch or special events), unless prohibited by school administrators or instructional staff.

  6. Student Use – Social Media

    1. HCPSS will not mandate that students create or use social media for instruction or for HCPSS-sponsored programs.

    2. Students will not create HCPSS social media accounts.

  7. Accountability

    1. In accordance with Grace’s Law 2.0 and Policy 1040 Safe and Supportive Schools, a person who discovers probable or potential harm to an individual must take appropriate measures to communicate with that individual and others who are in a position to protect them from harm, including but not limited to law enforcement.

    2. When student disciplinary investigations lead to searches and seizures on school property that involve technology, these searches and seizures will take place in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, Section 7-308 and Policy 9260 Student Search and Seizure.

    3. The destruction or theft of HCPSS technology as the result of negligence or misuse will be the financial responsibility of the responsible individual(s).

    4. Individuals assume full responsibility for personal technology devices; therefore, HCPSS is not responsible for any personal technology devices.

    5. Essential digital tools and HCPSS social media accounts will be monitored for appropriate use. HCPSS may also monitor personal social media accounts and supplemental digital tools to the extent practical.

    6. HCPSS reserves the right to enable or disable interactive features on HCPSS social media accounts, and to remove content inconsistent with the stated purpose, mission, and guidelines posted for the use of social media.

    7. Failure by any individual to comply with this policy may result in the temporary or permanent termination of technology access privileges, in addition to any applicable disciplinary action or financial obligation.

V. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee, in coordination with community recommendations from appropriate stakeholders, will review and update, as necessary, guidelines for the responsible use of technology, digital tools, and social media.

  2. The Superintendent/designee and principals/designees will communicate the provisions of this policy annually through customary channels.

  3. The Superintendent/designee will review this policy at least every three years and will recommend revision as necessary.

  4. The Superintendent/designee will establish prudent measures to safeguard the security of HCPSS technology in accordance with Policy 3040 Technology Security.

  5. The Superintendent/designee will establish the process for authorizing digital tools for use during HCPSS-sponsored programs in accordance with Policy 3060 Student Data Governance and Privacy and Policy 8040 Selection of Instructional Materials.

  6. Principals and supervisors will notify students, families, and employees in their schools and offices of any and all end-of-year and end-of-employment technology equipment checkout procedures.

  7. Employees will provide information to students regarding digital citizenship as part of HCPSS curriculum.

  8. The Superintendent/designee will notify individuals or organizations seeking to use school system computer technology as part of an agreement to use school system facilities (Policy 10020 Use of School Facilities) of the provisions of this policy.

VI. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VII. References

  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, 15 U.S.C. §6501 (COPPA)

  • Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. §2701-2711

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. §1232(g)

  • Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, 47 C.F.R. §§54.520(c)(1)(i) and 54.520(c)(2)(i)

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 20 U.S.C. §794(d)

  • Title XVII, Children’s Internet Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. §254(h) (CIPA)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Criminal Law Article, §3-805 (Misuse of Electronic Communication (Grace’s Law 2.0))

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §4-131, Student Data Privacy Act of 2015

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Education Article, §7-308 (Searches of students and schools)

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Labor and Employment Article, §3-712 (User Name and Password Privacy Protection and Exclusions)

C. Relevant Data Sources

  • Central Inventory Database

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: November 26, 2002

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED:

REVISED: January 21, 2003, May 10, 2007, March 11, 2010, June 27, 2013, June 9, 2016, June 25, 2020

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2020