ACSA Partner Content

Cyber Misconduct, Discipline and the Law

The Association of California School Administrators is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the United States, serving more than 17,000 California educators.

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16 Leadership of legal counsel to determine whether the school district has jurisdiction to move for- ward with discipline. General advice, "Not necessarily legal advice" As co-chair of Fagen Friedman & Ful- f rost's eMatters Practice Group, I work closely with numerous organizations and associations on the wide range of policy is- sues and contract matters that arise from the integration of technology into public school settings. From this experience, I offer some practical tips for your consideration: n Integrate acceptable technology use into existing policy. Now that technology use is intertwined into all aspects of classroom and school operations, acceptable use of technology principles may be integrated into many existing district policies, including but not limited to document retention, code of conduct, publishing, cheating, plagiarism and homework policies. n Shift from building policies around de- vices. With the rapid advancement of tech- nolog y, it can be challenging for school districts to continually update policies cre- ated around specific devices. For example, most cell phone polices prohibit students from making phone calls during class time; whereas, smartphones now of fer v ideo, photo, audio recording, texting, video game and Internet access capabilities to students during class time. Rather than a specific cell phone policy, acceptable use of technology policies should be broadened to govern all forms of technol- og y on campus, including smartphones. Similarly, if a school district adds electronic textbooks to its instructional toolbox, the district should integrate expectations for proper use and handling into policy that cur- rently addresses expectations for how text- books and other supplies are to be treated. n Promote digital citizenship in the school community. Today's challenge is to teach everyone – students and employees – the appropriate use of technolog y and con- sequences for abusing technolog y. Many school districts are embarking on campaigns to promote digital citizenship, including re- sponsible use of campus Facebook pages, cyberbullying reporting protocols, and po- tential consequences of social networking, Twitter, and online speech. These are 21st century life lessons that public schools are now called upon to address. n Gretchen M. Shipley is a partner in Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost's San Diego area office and co-chair of the firm's eMatters Practice Group. In this leadership role, she keeps the firm and its clients in front of the legal issues that stem from technology in today's education environment. More information is available at

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