More than 200 parents and students filled the auditorium at Parsippany Hills High School on Monday night for one of the freshman iPad meetings, led by Barry Haines, supervisor of District Technology.
Ninth-graders are getting iPads this school year and they pick them up at orientation on Sept. 4. As one of the requirements, parents have to attend one of the four iPad meetings.
One of the requirements includes the student signing an acceptable use policy, which Haines said that the students did in 8th grade already. This policy includes CIPA (children internet protection act).
Haines explained that CIPA requires all district digital devices to have certain filters so minors can’t access inappropriate material. Also, the device is configured so that when the iPad is brought home and links up with the home internet service, the filters are still on.
“If you hook this up with a home computer … and you have songs with explicit words, those songs will not transfer over.”
There are two cameras on the iPad, which “are really great for video conferences and learning about things going on around the world,” like talking to authors in other countries, said Haines.
However, the cameras are for educational use only. In 8th grade, students signed a computer acceptable use policy that says they will respect others’ privacies by not taking nor posting other people’s pictures.
Haines also brought up privacy referencing a Philadelphia school district that gave students laptops and some within the district secretly turned on the laptops’ webcams inside students' homes.
“That turned into a court case and was pretty ugly. From hence on, most states have a disclaimer where the school districts tell parents that yes the device has a camera, but no, we will not be using them outside of school, we won’t be remotely using them,” said Haines. The disclaimer also says that if that does happen, the district is “fined $250, not just for one of these, but for all 550 (iPads) that are out there.”
In the iPad agreement, it reads: “Additionally, although the school district will be bearing the responsibility of repairing this equipment, families will bear the responsibility for theft or loss. As such, we will be recommending that you purchase either a rider to your homeowner policy or a separate policy from one of the companies who provide that service at a modest cost. Please note at the end of the school year, students will be responsible for turning in their working iPad.”
This raised several concerns from parents. Haines gave a few statistics in response to these concerns.
“We have more than 1000 iPads currently being used from K-12. We use it in many different classrooms (and subject areas),” said Haines. “Out of those thousand iPads, none of them have been lost or stolen in the past three years.”
Haines also strongly suggested that the app ‘Find my iPad’ be downloaded to iTunes on a home device so that if the iPad is stolen or lost, the app will locate it via GPS. He added that students need to be vigilant, lock up their device and not leave it unattended.
The district does have warrantees for damage, such as a cracked screen.
“Out of the 80 iPads we assigned out for the pilot for six weeks last year from May-June, only one cracked,” said Haines, adding that the district did replace it.
With iPad damages, students must report it, the district will ask “them to complete a police report and the district will cover the damage.” If a student has repeated incidents, the district may decide against giving him/her an iPad. The same goes for if a student uses it inappropriately
“What we don’t cover is if a student comes to school and says, ‘I don’t know what happened to it.’ We don’t cover theft or loss,” said Haines. “The parent or family is responsible with replacing an iPad4 with 32 GB of RAM … We pay $600 per iPad.”
He later added, in response to a parent question, that theft/loss at school or outside of school falls under the parent’s responsibility.
“We put a lot of thought into this. We went out and looked at group insurance, other districts and it came back that the district would not be in good position if we tried to provide insurance,” said Haines, adding that of the research they did, half of the districts they looked at had insurance and half didn’t.
In this article, Patch looked at the basics of the iPad initiative, such as use in the classrooms, PARCC, bringing in a personal iPad and more. Check back with Patch later for reactions from parents and students on the new iPad initiative.