How To Respond To Student Computer Misconduct

Education Week, June 24, 1998, p. 36

Assistant principal and building technology coordinator Jeannine Clark tells how her New York school has been handling the increased problem of student misconduct involving school technology systems.

Defining this relatively new area of discipline has proved somewhat difficult—yet necessary—as more schools become wired and employ technology in their teaching and administration.

Clark mentions problems in her district that range from infractions as minor as printing too many pages without permission (worth three days of detention), to ones as major as repeated and malicious placement of electronic “time bombs” that crash networked classroom and administrative computers and erase their data (disciplinary action still pending, but could easily result in dismissal). Other problems range from downloading/printing pornographic material, to installing computer programs that circumvent filtering software, to hacking students’ personal data files.

Clark says one common form of discipline—revoking computer privileges—too often affected students enrolled in computer-related classes by hurting their grades and class rank. Instead, they instituted “monitored probation” where students must work on non-networked machines under close supervision.

And since students guilty of these infractions tend to be higher-achieving college-bound students, another effective tactic is the subtle threat of negative college recommendations that could jeopardize admissions and scholarship eligibility.

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