COMMERCE - To date, four meetings have been held for Commerce parents to instruct them on the district’s new initiative that provides iPads to high school students at a reduced price.
Among the questions received so far include, according to Superintendent Blake Cooper, what internet sites may be restricted when their child is using the device. The topic arose during Monday’s public hearing by the school board on Child Internet Protection Act Compliance.
“All we have control over is what they are doing while at our facilities,” Cooper said.
When on campus, either when using the internet from a school computer or their own iPad, students connected to the district server are limited from accessing certain sites like youtube, according to Technology Director Al Shipp.
“If they bring an iPad with their own data plan [on campus] they can access anything. [But] it would be a discipline issue if it [a violation] occurs.”
As long as students are using the school’s Wi-Fi, certain content will be filtered. The exception is when they’re using their own data plan on campus or are connected to an unfiltered network off campus.
Although the policy has been in place for some time at Commerce ISD, administrators are required to periodically remind the public of its existence by state mandate.
Main purposes of the policy are to control students’ access to inappropriate materials and materials that are harmful to minors, ensure student safety, prevent hacking, restrict unauthorized disclosure and educate students about cyber bullying awareness and response. The full policy can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, additional iPad training sessions for parents are planned, according to Superintendent Cooper.
Cooper told the Commerce Journal during a recent interview, “We know students respond well to technology. A survey we conducted last fall showed us that a majority of CHS students owned a cell phone and 75 percent had internet access at home. We won’t be asking students to ‘power down’ as they come into our classrooms. These devices help engage our students in learning and we expect academic performance will improve because of them.”
Through negotiations from district administrators combined with help from the Commerce Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation, students can purchase Apple’s iPad 2, which retails for $400 at the Apple Store, for $300. The devices can also be financed through Guaranty Bond Bank.