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CKSD gets a new Internet policy

"The Central Kitsap School Board narrowly passed a revised Internet policy Wednesday.The new policy, approved by a 3-2 vote, allows schools to change from an opt-in to an opt-our stance on Internet use. If individual schools adopt the new policy, parents would have the option of prohibiting their children from using the Internet with a signed note. The previous Internet policy required students to get signed permission from their parents in order to go online at school. School board members John Farbarik and Robert VanDenburgh voted for the new policy, while members Chris Stokke and Christy Cathcart voted against it. School board president Carl Johnson cast the deciding vote in favor of the new policy.Assistant Superintendant for Curriculum and Instruction Steve Chappuis told the board that many measures will thwart students from abusing Internet access. The schools employ what he called a firewall, which prevents students from accessing unnecessary sites, and all Internet activity will be monitored by a server that tells staff which students are going where on the Web.Chappuis acknowledged, however, that no policy will be 100 percent effective in preventing abuse.Several parents and school employees argued against the new policy, saying there are still too many ambiguities in the new system.Stokke read off nearly a dozen e-mails he had received from parents and community members who feared the new policy made abusing the Internet too easy. Cathcart said the district should wait and gauge the effectiveness of filtering software before adopting an opt-out policy.Most of those who spoke against the policy worried the district was taking away from parents the power to decide what their children see and read.They have done a good job on the protection side, as good as anyone can do, said Carrie Riplinger, a library assistant at Seabeck Elementary. I still think there is a subtle shift away from parent involvement.Those in favor of the new policy said parent involvement levels will remain the same, regardless of whether parents sign a piece of paper. They also said the new policy will mean less paperwork and computer time for school staff, who must register an account for every student.It comes down to perception of how we are letting parents know about it, said board member Robert VanDenburgh. I don't think we have taken parents out of the loop. We have a pretty aggressive plan to let parents know about the changes.Chappuis said individual schools will have the final decision on whether or not to adopt the new policy. He expects most elementary schools will stick to the old policy, while other schools might adopt the policy only for certain grade levels.Come fall, you're not going to have 20 schools with a new policy, he said."

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