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School district balks at "vague" technology policy


February 20, 2020

At the recommendation of Superintendent Mark Broderson, the Crook County School District Board of Trustees has chosen to delay adoption of a new technology policy due to concerns that its wording is too vague. At Monday’s meeting, the board heard that members of staff are concerned it would allow searches of personal cell phones.

The policy was created by the office of Tracy Copenhaver, legal counsel for the Wyoming School Boards Association. This office is responsible for sending out new policies to districts across the state, Broderson said.

“We sent it out to district staff for input and it generated quite a bit of discussion because it talks about being able to look at personal items,” Broderson said.

The wording in question dictates that, “Employees who use their personal devices or technology for District business…consent to a search of their personal computer, devices or technology by District administrators for messages, information or data related to District business except where the communication was also delivered to a school administrator, server or other device where it can be reviewed by District administration.”

Along with the policy, Broderson presented a number of emails with questions from staff members.

“Some staff members are concerned about the search of personal devices, some staff members think it’s about time that we did that,” he said.

Broderson stated that he asked Copenhaver’s office for a response to the concerns.

“His response basically is: we are not going to search a personal device unless there is reasonable doubt,” he said. “But he does not define reasonable doubt.”

Copenhaver’s response also mentions that, if a person does not want something private seen, they should not keep it on their phone, Broderson said. This is not likely to be a popular sentiment, he added.

A teacher shared the policy with Hacker, Hacker and Kendall P.C., the law firm that represents the Wyoming Education Association. The firm “attacked the vagueness and said it needed to be tightened up,” Broderson said.

“I think what we do is let the two law offices come up with some more wording. I think there are some other districts that are in the same boat that we’re in,” Broderson said.

“I suspect they will tighten up the wording so it’s less vague and give us maybe a better policy to look at down the road.”

Part of the new policy is about student use of the internet, which did not receive any comments, Broderson said. He suggested adopting that section of the policy at the March meeting.


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