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D-41 Board scraps tech policy, talks new approach after students view porn, parents complain

Published: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 7:13 p.m. CST

GLEN ELLYN – The Glen Ellyn School District 41 Board of Education took steps Tuesday to change its acceptable use of technology policy after receiving parent feedback on the issue.

The board held the first reading of the policy Tuesday and had two hours of discussion on possible changes, deciding to delete the technology guidelines as written and have a team of attorneys write a new set. Board members said the new guidelines will follow a model by the Illinois Association of School Boards.

Board member Dean Elger, who sits on the committee that reviewed the document with board member Cathryn Wilkinson, said there will be several opportunities for the public to attend work sessions to voice their opinions on possible changes.

Public work sessions are tentatively scheduled for July 30 and Aug. 2, but board members are considering another meeting or two the week prior.

The board is moving quickly to get as much input as possible so it can start the new policy prior to the 2014-15 school year.

The changes in the technology policy became a necessity after three Forest Glen Elementary School students accessed pornographic websites on district grounds in April. Parents came before the board in the months following and demanded more stringent regulations guiding technology use for students.

One of the biggest topics Tuesday involved whether all personal electronic devices should be banned from being used on district grounds.

Elger said he saw no need for a student to use a personal device on district grounds when they get enough technology from the district.

But board member Joe Bochenski said the life of a young person revolves around the use of cell phones and tablets.

Disallowing those items would mean students couldn't read a book on their phone during lunch or a study hall, Bochenski said.

"I can't fathom, as a board member, taking that away from them," he said.

Superintendent Paul Gordon said several teachers at Hadley Junior High School approached him about the possibility of keeping technology from the students and expressed displeasure in the route the board was taking.

"These are digital-native kids," Gordon said the teachers told him. "And you're taking that away from them."

Another subject of debate was how to handle students using electronic devices on a school bus, as, technically, the bus is an extension of district grounds.

Board member Erica Nelson and several others agreed it would be difficult to police a technology policy on a bus.

Among other issues the board wants to resolve prior to the public work sessions is age differentiation.

Under the version of the policy the board read at Tuesday's meeting, all students in the district would be under the same restrictions, from kindergarten to eighth grade. Board members felt older students should have more leniency with technology.

Board members also hoped to get more concrete definitions of some terms in the policy and to make sure it encompassed technological advances.

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