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I don’t like my district’s AUP

Last night was Family Night at my kids’ elementary school. You know, that night when you visit your kid’s class with the other parents, learn about the curriculum and teacher expectations for the year, sit in little tiny chairs, etc.

Each parent was asked to sign the district’s Digital Resources Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for the 2008-2009 school year. Not a single parent read over the AUP; everyone just signed it blindly. Except me, of course. I combed through it because, as a former attorney and technology guy, I want to know what I’m signing on behalf of my fifth-grade daughter. Here’s the part that troubled me:

The following guidelines for digital citizenship apply for all students in grades 3-12:

Inappropriate use includes but is not limited to online chatting, shopping, social networking sites (,, etc.), games,, viewing of inappropriate material, bypassing school filters, downloading and installation of software, and harming the District’s digital resources in any way.

A categorical determination that computer games are ‘inappropriate use?’ A without-exception policy against YouTube, social networking sites, and online chats? I don’t agree! Now what? Do I make a stink with my daughter’s teacher? No, of course not. Do I refuse to sign it, thus preventing my daugher from using the computer in school next week for her class project? No, of course not [she’s already tired of me encouraging her to ask her teacher why she has to practice cursive writing!].

My uneasy compromise was to sign the form and then write under my signature:

I strenuously object to the District’s definition of ‘inappropriate use.’ Although I am signing this so that my daughter can use the computer at school, I reserve the right to contest at any time the District’s definition and this policy.

What do you think? What do you do as a parent when you’re confronted with a district AUP that you think is unnecessarily restrictive? How would you have handled this situation?

[Recently I was invited to serve on the district technology committee. Hopefully I can persuade them to rethink the AUP a little bit…]


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