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Information on the publication Supporting the Safe and
responsible Use of the Internet: A Children's Internet Protection Act Planning Guide can be found here.

The Children's Internet Protection Act requires that districts develop an Internet Safety Plan that addresses the following elements:

  1. Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web.
  2. Safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications.
  3. Unauthorized online access by minors, including "hacking" and other unlawful activities.
  4. Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors.
  5. Measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors.

The CIPA Internet Safety Plan requirements provide an excellent framework for an analysis of the strategy developed by the district to support the safe and responsible use of the Internet by students. Most districts can easily comply with the CIPA requirements.

This document seeks to assist districts in shifting their thinking from "compliance" to "MORE" -- a comprehensive strategy designed to assist students to learn to use the Internet in a safe and responsible manner.

The items on the check list are included to help districts consider what more they might be doing to address these issues. The intention is to create a guide for planning and assessment -- not a judgement tool. This is a comprehensive list. Districts may decide that it is not necessary, or not possible to accomplish everything on the list. Some of the items are repeated because they relate to general issues as well as to issues within a particular category.

It is recommended that districts address the items on this checklist with the following questions:

  • What are we doing to address this issue?

  • Do we need to be doing something more to address this issue?

  • If we need to be doing more,
    • what should we do,
    • who should be responsible,
    • what resources should be provided, and
    • how will we assess the effectiveness?

Education Purpose

Activities that provide the foundation for the effective educational use of the Internet for educational purposes.

  • Policy provisions that specify appropriate educational activities.

  • Clearly define circumstances when it is permissible for students to use the Internet for entertainment or non-educational purposes (may be on a school basis).

  • District provides technical skills training for staff. Staff are becoming technically proficient.

  • District provides professional development for teachers and administrators on use of the Internet to assist students in achieving curriculum objectives. Teachers and administrators are increasing their understanding and skills in the effective use of the Internet to support curriculum objectives.

  • District has created or is facilitating access to Internet-based lesson plans that support use of the Internet to assist students in achieving curriculum objectives.

  • District web site provides links to pre-reviewed educational resources

  • Teachers have the knowledge and skills to create classroom/lesson web sites with links to Internet resources (if teachers do not have knowledge/skills, technical support is provided to facilitate the timely creation of such sites).

  • Technical support is provided at an adequate level.

  • Instructional support systems, such as mentoring and electronic communication environments to support instructional/educational activities, have been established.

  • District periodically evaluates web usage logs to determine degree to which Internet is being used for high quality educational activities.

Education about Safe and Responsible Use of the Internet

Activities that prepare students, teachers, and administrators to use the Internet in a safe and responsible manner.

  • Students have been educated about requirements of district Internet use policy. Secondary students demonstrate understanding of the policy prior to receiving individual account on the system.

  • Parents have received information about district Internet use policy and strategies to address concerns at home.

  • Parent Internet use classes are offered.

  • Students receive instruction related to safe and responsible use of the Internet in a manner appropriate to grade level and Internet usage.

  • Teachers and administrators receive instruction related to safe and responsible use of the Internet.

  • Internet safety and responsible use instruction for students and staff includes:

    • Avoiding unintentional access (effective search skills, URL porn-napping).
    • Dealing with accidental access (getting out of mouse-traps).
    • Recognizing and dealing with unwanted SPAM.
    • Communication safety skills (protection of privacy, recognizing predators, reporting predators).
    • Protection of privacy (personal privacy, privacy of others, privacy on commercial sites).
    • Harmful speech (defamation, harassment, violation of privacy, abusive language, flame wars, etiquette, recognizing harmful speech/hate sites, consequences for offenders, effective victim responses ).
    • Copyright (rights and responsibilities).
    • Plagiarism.
    • Computer security (illegal computer activities).
    • Network security and resource limits (passwords, viruses, quotas, downloads, group lists, etc.)
    • Online addiction
  • District is addressing issues that are underlying Internet concerns inappropriate classes. Curriculum objectives for courses include:

    • Sex education classes: Internet pornography, predation, online addiction.
    • History and social science: online hate/harmful speech, free speech/responsible speech.
    • Information literacy and copyright throughout curriculum.
    • Writing instruction: copyright and plagiarism.
    • Technology classes: technology ethics, computer security.

Supervision and Monitoring

Establishment of an environment where student misuse of the Internet will be detected and addressed.

  • Secondary students log onto Internet system with a unique student identifier that allows for determination of identity of student.

  • Internet usage logs retained in manner that facilitate monitoring and provision of student usage logs to parents.

  • Expectation has been communicated to staff that student use of the Internet will be supervised in a manner appropriate to age and circumstances of use.

  • Elementary staff understand that no student should have access to open Internet unless there is close, over-the-shoulder supervision by the teacher.

  • Building administrators, or designee conduct annual review of placement of all computers to facilitate effective supervision.

  • District/schools have established a technical monitoring system that is appropriate in accord with the circumstances of the school (relates to size of school, number of computers, etc.).

  • Parents have been informed of their right to receive their child's Internet use records.

  • E-mail traffic and web usage volume is tracked to detect excessive use that may be the result of misuse.

  • District has established record retention process in compliance with state public records laws.

  • Staff have been informed of impact of state public access laws.

  • Students have been fully informed of all district monitoring and parents right to access all Internet usage records.


The district's disciplinary approach reinforces the importance of using the Internet in a safe and responsible manner.

  • Administrators have received professional development in issues related to administrative concerns when addressing student online behavior, including issues of district liability, due process, and addressing harmful online speech on and off campus.

  • Incidents of misuse result in a "teachable moments" for offending students.

  • Incidents of misuse are evaluated by Technology Committee to guide policies and procedures.

  • Issues related to incidents of misuse are addressed in educational efforts.

Access to Inappropriate Material

Concerns related to the potential of student access to inappropriate material.


  • District has developed a policy that addresses in clear and unambiguous language what material is considered inappropriate for students to access.

  • Determination of what material is and is not considered appropriate has been developed in accord with constitutional standards related to students' rights of access to information.

  • District has policy that allows for access to certain restricted material in the context of appropriate educational activities (access hate literature to study hate literature)

  • District has policy that specifies when students may use the Internet for entertainment purposes.

  • District encourages students to use the Internet in accord with family values and provides parents with access to their child's records.

Elementary Students

  • District has established a safe Internet space (district web site with pre-reviewed sites) for elementary students.

  • Elementary teachers understand that any access to the open Internet must be closely supervised (even if the district has filtering, because filtering fails).

  • Elementary teachers know how to create a class/lesson web site and add links to the district site (if teachers do not have these skills, support is provided).

  • Classroom e-mail accounts or other form of protected electronic communication facilities have been established for student electronic communication.

Secondary Students

  • District is providing instruction in:

    • Prohibitions and standards related to inappropriate material set forth in policy.

    • Strategies to avoid access to inappropriate material (search methods, problems with porn-napping)

    • Appropriate responses in the event of mistaken access inappropriate material (responding to mouse-trapping, need to report).

    • The manner in which the district is monitoring student use and activities that will provide the foundation for a "reasonable suspicion" that will justify an individualized search of student's usage records.

    • Parent's rights to receive access to student usage logs and e-mail files.

Technology Protection Measure

Recommended Approaches
These approaches address the concern regarding the constitutionality of public school districts utilizing a filtering product where the filtering company has not provided full and complete information regarding the technical proficiency of the product, criteria for blocking, key words, and access to the database of blocked sites. These approaches will result in under-blocking and thus the ability of students to inadvertently or intentionally access inappropriate material. Therefore, the following approaches should only be used in context of a comprehensive strategy that includes safe space for elementary students and education/monitoring of secondary students, such as outlined in this document.)

  • Install blocking system that provides actual list of all blocked sites.

  • Set browsers to block access to adult sites in accord with Internet Content Rating Association standards.

  • Use a filtered monitoring program that will filter all Internet traffic and report instances of potential misuse (can be in addition to the two blocking described above).

  • Use a spam filter if spam is a concern in electronic communication facilities (should be used in addition to other technologies, if necessary).

Traditional Blocking/Filtering Products
Selection Criteria

  • Company has provided district with full and complete information regarding criteria for blocking within each category sufficient for the district to ascertain that the company is not engaging in blocking based on inappropriate bias in any key category that must be blocked to meet CIPA compliance. (The only way to accurately assess this is to receive from the company the list of keywords that are used for searching and automatic blocking.)

  • Company agrees that it will submit its product for full and complete objective independent analysis if/when such an analysis mechanism has been established.

  • Product provides the capability to allow a people through the district to easily override the filter to unblock access. (This capability should make it possible for district media specialists to quickly override to assess the appropriateness of a site and, if appropriate, allow access without requiring a significant amount of effort or placing the network security/blocking functionality in jeopardy.)


  • Process has been established where building level representations (media specialists and others) have the authority to temporarily override the filter to review a site and, if appropriate, provide access with a reporting mechanism to ensure accountability.

  • Process has been established to facilitate permanent overriding of inappropriately blocked sites.

  • Process has been established to periodically review logs/reports to determine the degree to which technology is blocking access to appropriate sites and not blocking access to inappropriate sites.

  • Process has been established for students to anonymously request that access to certain sites be allowed.

  • Process has been established to facilitate the periodic review of the technology and solicits input from administrators, teachers, media specialists, and students in the context of this review.

Safety and Security when Using Electronic Communication

Addressing the safety and security of students when they are using electronic communications.

  • Policy includes provisions addressing personal privacy, respecting privacy of others, required disclosure of inappropriate messages, warning that excessive e-mail use can constitute grounds for reasonable suspicion that the student may be misusing the Internet service, and warning that the students' parents can have access toe-mail files.

  • Students receive instruction in all of the above as appropriate for grade level and level of access.

  • District has established an electronic communication environment that is protected and facilitates access for appropriate monitoring (i.e. not Hotmail).

  • Elementary students use electronic communications in safe environments with total teacher access -- class account, monitored account, or the like.

  • Secondary students receive individual accounts only after participating in training regarding communication safety and requirements of district policy.

  • Individual student accounts are established with unique student identifier that disguises students' real names.

  • District has established a policy to review e-mail use to detect excessive use that may indicate inappropriate use. (Or district uses filtered monitoring to detect instances of possible misuse.)

Responsible and Legal Use Issues

Promoting the responsible and legal use of the Internet.

  • Policy includes provisions that address: computer security, use of district system to commit illegal acts, harmful speech, copyright , plagiarism, network security and resource limits (passwords, viruses, quotas, downloads, group lists, etc.)

  • Students and staff receive instruction in all of the above, as appropriate for grade level/position.

  • District has established network protection processes and provided information to staff and students about responsibilities.

  • District conducts network review to detect excessive or inappropriate use that may indicate inappropriate use.

  • The district has established a program to reduce plagiarism:

    • District's curriculum objectives and writing instruction program has been designed to assist students in learning how to write effectively without engaging in plagiarism.
    • Teachers assign writing projects in a manner that reduces the incentive or likelihood that students will engage in plagiarism.
    • Teachers seek to detect and effectively address incidents of plagiarism. (Punishing students for engaging in plagiarism is not acceptable unless the district has provided the necessary education in effective writing to avoid plagiarism.)

Unauthorized Use, Disclosure, or Dissemination of Personal Information of Students

Addressing the protection of student personal information.

  • All contracts and agreements with third party companies accessed through the web are reviewed to assess compliance with federal and state laws and district policies related to the protection of student personal information.

  • The district has established an effective process to manage the disclosure of student information/work or photographs of students on the district web site. Parental permission is obtained prior to any disclosure.

  • District has established a process to manage the transmission of confidential student information via staff e-mail and has communicated to staff the requirements for such transmission.

  • Policy prohibits students from distributing personal information of other students in an e-mail or elsewhere on the Internet.

  • Policy prohibits students from disclosing personal information regarding self in e-mail or elsewhere except for specifically approved situations (e.g. disclosure by high school students for continuing education, job search, etc.)

  • District prohibition against the establishment of student accounts on third party systems unless there is a clear educational purpose, no collection of student information for consumer market research purposes, and parents have been informed and approve.

Web Site Management

Managing the district web site to protect against liability and to address copyright and harmful speech concerns.

  • District teaches students about how to protect the copyright in their own materials.

  • District has permission from parents to place students' copyrighted materials online.

  • District has established a web site management process that protects against posting of materials on the district web site that are in violation of copyright, contain harmful speech, that inappropriately discloses personal information of students, or is otherwise inappropriate for placement on a district web site (but not limitations based on viewpoint discrimination).

  • District has established a process whereby third parties who are concerned about material posted on the district web site can easily contact the district to seek resolution of such concerns (e.g. a web site concerns link that provides information on policy and e-mail connection to an administrator who will address reported concerns).

  • District web site meets standards for disability access.

(Also recommended that the district have a policy related to copyright ownership of teacher created materials/web sites.)

CIPA Procedures and Beyond

  • District has held a public hearing that meets CIPA requirements.

  • District has established an ongoing policy/planning/review committee to address these issues with representatives from all stakeholder groups.

  • District provides information to and opportunity to receive input from all stakeholder groups.

  • District periodically reviews district policies and procedures and make adjustments where appropriate.