Policy coming on school computers. What? No one knows
Feb 18, 2013 (Florida Keys Keynoter - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Monroe County School District plans to come up with some way to get approval from teachers -- or issue some kind of disclaimer -- before their classroom computers can be remotely accessed through cameras and microphones.
What exactly that is isn't clear or on the immediate horizon.
School Board members took up the discussion Tuesday, questioning the efficacy of the system and expressing concern over the Big Brother-esque potential. The issue came up when some teachers approached board member John Dick, asking why IT staff has remote access to their computers.
IT initially said the department doesn't have such access -- but then reversed and admitted it does. Superintendent Mark Porter said he has no evidence that anyone actually spied on teachers through the computers -- but Dick and board member Ed Davidson aren't convinced.
"Having this whole thing there really does bother me," Dick said.
There are three components to the SchoolVue software: Tech, tutor and client.
Tech is for IT staff to remotely fix or maintain computers; tutor is for teachers to listen and watch students doing computer-based assignments; and client allows your computer to be monitored.
Dick pointed out that the client, not tutor, software is on around 250 teacher computers, essentially removing the functionality from the system and confusing the vendor, with whom he discussed the matter.
"The question became, 'Why did we put 250 of the client models on teachers ' And the company said, 'Why would anybody do that ' That, to them, was very strange."
Davidson pointed to the 2007-08 district finance scandal and the "lack of trust" that resulted in the then-superintendent and his wife, another high-level administrator, with felony convictions for respectively covering up and stealing more than $400,000 in schools money.
"That this capacity even exists in any fashion is entirely inappropriate," Davidson said. "You're getting close to some constitutional stuff. And considering our colorful history, I don't think anybody should have more than meager confidence that some of this isn't going to stray into misuse."
Expressing frustration with the discussion, board member Robin Smith-Martin said that even without the software package in question, there are other ways to tap into someone else's computer.
"This is all speculation but this is what's going to be on the front page of the newspaper ... because you guys are making this stuff up in your own brains," Smith-Martin told his colleagues.
"You may not like it but it's the world we live in, deal with it," he said. "Why focus on this to give fodder Instead of improving our schools, we're having to defend somebody wondering if someone is staring at them on their laptop. This is a waste of time. There's no boogie man out there."
"That's what they said when we started to check on the money that was going out of the district," Dick shot back, referencing the public downfall of then-Superintendent Randy Acevedo and his wife Monique, the former adult education coordinator, who's serving an eight-year prison sentence for grand theft.
Porter said he'd come up with an acceptable use policy.
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