Cell Phones in School?
The dos and don'ts of mobile education.
Everyone seems to agree that mobile education is the next big thing, but the practicalities of students using their phones for educational purposes—not to mention the potential security issues—have remained a roadblock for administrators and technology coordinators. Recently, researchers at the Center for Education Policy and Law at the University of San Diego have attempted to address some of those concerns by developing model policies governing cell phone use and by providing resources for learning about how kids are already using their phones.
One of the more surprising recommendations is that schools regulate off-campus use of cell phones when there is proof that this use "will result in a material disruption of the school environment or a substantial interference with the rights of others." Even in the wake of cyberbullying scandals, schools have been careful not to overreach in disciplining students and impinge on their First Amendment rights. But the new recommendations, based on California state law, argue that "school authority is not limited to the geographical boundaries of the school grounds." The guidelines also encourage educators to search phones "within the context of the alleged misuse." The full recommendations are available here.
Houston Records Hacked
After a security breach left thousands of student and employee records vulnerable, Houston Independent School District will spend $10-15 million beefing up its computer security, according to Superintendent Terry Grier. The records were hacked from a Pin Oak Middle School computer sometime in October, but the district remains unsure whether it was an on-campus or remote attack, or whether the hacker was an adult or a student. The schools' new security measures will include stronger firewalls, new password procedures, and an external review of the district's security plan.
Gadget Theft a Problem
After a string of locker room thefts, including an incident in which 50 combination locks were cut, Von Mansfield, the superintendent of Illinois's Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School District, is encouraging students to leave their cell phones and iPods at home since school policy doesn't allow security cameras in the locker room. Other Illinois districts have stepped up their security after similar thefts, according to The Herald News.
Security Officers Burgle School
The recent theft of laptop computers, digital cameras, and a flat-screen television from the Oregon Episcopal School in Portland had an unusual perpetrator-the school's contracted security officers. Stirling Anderson, owner of Northwest Merchant Patrol, and two of his employees are accused of stealing over $100,000 worth of equipment over a period of several months. They were caught in the act by an officer of a second security firm the school hired to keep tabs on the first.