‘Principal Cam’ earns superintendent a felony conviction

A jury has convicted a northern California superintendent of felony eavesdropping for installing a hidden video recorder in a principal’s office. The case highlights the legal ambiguities brought on by an increased use of electronic surveillance in the workplace.

Craig Drennan, superintendent of the Modoc Joint Unified School District, was charged by Modoc County District Attorney Tom Buckwalter May 11 after police discovered the video camera in a fake smoke detector in former Modoc High School Principal Dewey Pasquini’s office (see eSchool News, July).

The jury took less than hour to find Drennan guilty of those charges Sept. 8. He faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $27,000, though Buckwalter said he would be surprised if the sentence involves prison time.

Superior Court Judge Larry Dryer scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 12.

Drennan, who remains on paid administrative leave, said he installed the camera under the guidelines of the school district’s lawyer in an effort catch someone who had apparently rifled through personnel files in Pasquini’s office. The school board president also was aware of the camera.

Drennan told eSchool News last spring that he didn’t think he was acting illegally, because the camera recorded only video images and not sound.

“I don’t understand the charge,” Drennan said at the time. “As I understand the (penal) code and the case law, eavesdropping has to involve sound and it has to involve intent. There was no sound and there was no intent.”

Eavesdropping laws vary by state. In California, the penal code refers to the recording of “confidential communication,” and does not specifically mention or exclude videotaping or audiovisual surveillance.

After the verdict, Drennan told reporters that he was surprised by the jury’s decision and that he planned to appeal.

Assumption of privacy

Acting on a tip from an unnamed citizen, police discovered the camera on May 5. Chief of Police Larry Pickett said he learned the school district spent $4,500 to have the camera installed by a Redding, Calif., alarm company.

The camera was connected to a videotape recorder in the attic above the boys’ restroom, where the district’s maintenance chief testified he installed a new tape at 5 a.m. every day and delivered the previous day’s tape to Drennan’s office.

Pickett said Drennan told him that the tapes contained no evidence of wrongdoing in Pasquini’s office and that he had ordered the tapes destroyed.

When reached at his home last spring, Drennan said he didn’t inform the principal because he wanted to ensure that as few people knew about the camera as possible.

“When you put in a surveillance camera, you only want to tell the people that need to know,” he said. “I believe that by telling him, the surveillance would have been ineffective.

“It’s pretty standard procedure in lots of industries that when you think there’s a security problem, you have a secret camera installed,” he added.

Legal or not, however, the idea didn’t sit well with Principal Pasquini.

“I feel especially betrayed. It never occurred to me that anybody would do this. It caught me by surprise,” Pasquini said after the charges were filed.

“It’s always been considered a place where people could have privacy,” he said, referring to his private office. “The superintendent and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, which is probably a reason for the video.”

Bill Hall, who was president of the district’s board of trustees when the camera was installed, said he didn’t have a problem with the superintendent’s plan, because Drennan told him he had spoken with the school district’s attorney and had been given the OK to install it.

But eSchool News ethics and law columnist David Splitt had this view: Although there is no mention of videotaping or “visual” surveillance in the California law, the statute is so broadly worded that even “silent surveillance” might be unlawful.

“On the other hand, the introductory language in the statute specifically mentions ‘listening devices,'” Splitt said. “The appellate court will have to consider whether the law is limited to eavesdropping on ‘sounds,’ or whether any type of communication is covered.”

If the court finds that the law covers sign language and lip reading, as well as other nonverbal communication, the conviction could stand, Splitt said.

Drennan has been on administrative leave with full pay since May 13. At press time, Interim Superintendent Don Demsher said the district board had made no move to seek Drennan’s dismissal or to find a regular replacement.

Modoc High School



Business Briefs: News from the companies that supply your schools’ technology solutions

ZapMe!, Dell ink alliance

ZapMe! Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. on Aug. 23 announced an alliance to bring Dell’s OptiPlex PCs and PowerEdge servers to ZapMe!-installed schools.

Under the agreement, Dell becomes the principal supplier of PCs and servers for the ZapMe! network. Through Dell’s custom factory integration service, DellPlus, the systems will be pre-configured with software for both internet connectivity and classroom instruction.

In addition, Dell has made an equity investment in ZapMe!, and the two companies will collaborate in both product development and joint marketing programs.

ZapMe! also appointed a new chief executive officer, Rick Inatome, on Sept. 20. Inatome was founder and served as CEO of Inacomp Computer Centers and is chairman of its successor company, Inacom Corp., a global Fortune 500 technology services provider. In addition, he co-founded Computer City, one of the country’s leading computer superstore chains, and is co-chairman of American Speedy Printing Centers Inc., the nation’s fourth largest quick-printing chain.

ZapMe! founder Lance Mortensen will remain actively involved as chairman and devote his efforts to business development and creative strategies, the company said.

Lightspan acquires Global Schoolhouse

The Lightspan Partnership Inc., developers of comprehensive educational software and web-based tools and activities for classroom learning, on Sept. 8 announced the acquisition of Global Schoolhouse, a leading web site for classroom-to-classroom communication.

With this acquisition, Lightspan is well positioned to bring the best in collaborative learning activities to more teachers and to extend its mission of improving student achievement, the company said in a press release.

“Global Schoolhouse and Lightspan are a natural fit,” said Winnie Wechsler, senior vice president and general manager of Lightspan’s internet services. “Our mission is to use technology to help kids learn, and Global Schoolhouse, a true pioneer in using the internet for exchanging ideas and information, will enhance Lightspan’s growing online community for teachers, kids, and parents.”

Proceeds from the purchase of Global Schoolhouse will serve as an endowment for the non-profit Global SchoolNet Foundation. “As a result of this endowment, the foundation will be able to provide grants to teachers for expanding classroom use of the internet,” said Yvonne Marie Andres, co-founder of Global Schoolhouse and a new vice president at Lightspan.

“The goal is to reward those forward-thinking teachers and organizations—and help them put in place great online curriculum projects for their students,” Andres continued. The first grants will be awarded early next year, she said.

College Board to create for-profit web site

Pressure from the rapidly expanding online industry that helps students prepare for and select colleges has motivated the College Board, the non-profit organization that administers the SAT, to create its first for-profit subsidiary in a move to establish a full-service web site of its own.

The decision marks a radical shift for the century-old organization best known as the objective overseer of college entrance exams. The move follows a host of other advertisement-driven online ventures, including an upgrade of the Princeton Review’s web site, that focus on the lucrative high school and college market—a trend that has raised concerns among many about the commercialization of education.

The College Board’s plan for a web site to cater to a college applicant’s every need, from financial aid forms to SAT tutoring, marks the convergence of two major trends in education in the 1990s: the expansion of for-profit enterprises and the large number of electronic endeavors.

“We’re living in a world of piranha economics in regard to education,” Arthur Levine, president of the Teacher’s College at Columbia University, told the New York Times. “Every Wall Street firm, seemingly, has an education department. Venture capitalists are moving into this very quickly. Any nonprofit that fails to recognize both the opportunities and the challenges that come from the digital world is destined for extinction.”

Cisco gets into fiber optics with $7.4 billion acquisitions

Shoring up an iron grip on the market for internet equipment, Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., is paying $7.4 billion for two companies with expertise in the fiber-optic technology needed to carry telephone calls and TV over data networks.

The acquisitions of Cerent and Monterey Networks, announced Aug. 26, put Cisco in direct competition with Lucent Technologies, Nortel Networks, and Alcatel in a market that analysts expect to grow to $10 billion during the next three years.

The Cerent purchase is the biggest ever for Cisco, which today controls roughly 85 percent of the world’s market for the routers and switches that direct data around computer networks.

“The size of this deal really surprised me, but Cisco had a clear hole in their product portfolio, and they simply had to fill it,” said Chandan Sarkar, an analyst at Soundview Financial. “I think these guys had Cisco over a barrel.”

Cerent, based in Petaluma, Calif., makes a microwave-sized device that can be used by providers of cable, phone, and internet service to ease bottlenecks between the speedy fiber-optic “backbones” that make up the internet and older, slower telephone networks made with copper.

Monterey, based in Richardson, Texas, makes technology used to increase capacity at the core of an optical network.

“The internet is going optical fiber, no doubt, and Cisco just wasn’t in on it yet,” said Gina Socklow, an analyst at Brean Murray & Co. “Now they’re back in the race.”

Mike Volpi, Cisco’s vice president of business development, said the deals will enable it to help customers such as internet service providers make the transition from “old world networks—voice networks” to multimedia networks carrying data, voice, and video together.

Analysts say CEO departure will hurt Iomega

Stock analysts say the departure of Iomega’s chief executive officer, Jodie Glore, will hurt the struggle to right greater stability to the company.

Glore was the second CEO to leave the company in 10 months. He was temporarily replaced by David J. Dunn, who said he plans to return the company to “profitable growth.”

“The fact that Jodie is leaving is a significant impediment to the return to profitability of Iomega,” said analyst Stan Corker of Pennsylvania-based Emerald Research, during a round-table discussion of analysts carried over the internet.

Officials at the Roy, Utah-based company, which makes disk drives for computer data storage, said they don’t understand the pessimism.

“We’re puzzled here at some of the reaction,” said spokeswoman Janet Kacskos. “Some of the comments have got the employees scratching their heads.” She said the company has new hardware and software hitting the market and “we’re full steam ahead.”

Reasons for Glore’s Aug. 19 resignation are unclear. He joined the company last October, and said he was leaving to spend time with his family. But there was speculation that Glore may have been asked to leave the company.

When Glore was hired, his job was to right a company whose stock price had fallen from $40 per share in 1995 and had fallen to $9 when he took over. But analysts were critical of Glore’s performance, including layoffs and plant closures in California, billed as cost-cutting moves.

In all, seven top executives, not including the CEOs, have left in the past two years, which Corker said made it tough to turn the company around. That’s bad news for a company pinning its future on a strong fourth quarter, Corker said.

Western Digital recalls 400,000 computer hard drives

A defective computer chip has forced Western Digital Corp., of Orange County, Calif., to recall 400,000 hard disk drives.

Western Digital officials said it was unclear how many of the affected hard drives actually were in consumer hands or how much the recall would cost.

The company, which supplies equipment to Gateway Inc. and Compaq Computer Corp., said many of the disk drives were still in the hands of manufacturers and sellers.

The defect can cause the hard drives to fail to power up after six to 12 months of use, company officials said Sept. 27.

“No data has been lost, and none is in danger of being lost,” said Charles Haggerty, Western Digital’s chief executive.

The recall is the latest in a string of problems for the company, including recent layoffs and a plunging stock price.

The hard drives being recalled are part of the WD Cavair series. They were made between Aug. 27 and Sept. 24 and have drive capacities between 6.4 gigabytes and 20.5 gigabytes, the company said.

Consumers who purchased computers in the past month can check specification sheets on their machines to see if they include a Western Digital drive, officials said. The company’s web site, www.westerndigital.com, offers a software program that can be downloaded to identify affected products.


Technology Champion: Lake Washington’s Chip Kimball isleading a four-part plan for successInfrastructure, access, culture, and information are keys to his approach

Chip Kimball is well on his way to achieving the goal he has set for himself and the Lake Washington School District.

“My charter was to create the most information-rich school district in the country,” he said. “Ideally, we want to use technology for the betterment of the whole system.”

Kimball, the assistant superintendent for Lake Washington, is a former science teacher and technology coordinator for Madera School District and has held positions as a private-sector technology consultant and Technology Center Fellow.

He recently led his district to the largest funding measure in its history ($260 million), including $30 million for technology. A successful grant writer and public speaker, Kimball also has published numerous works on funding, technology planning, and implementation.

Lake Washington, located in Redmond, Wash., consists of 42 schools and an estimated 25,000 students

If one glance at Lake Washington’s impressive web site is not enough to convince browsers that this is one tech-savvy school district, then the ambitious technology plan outlined by Kimball no doubt would convert them.

“We have created four areas of focus, in order of priority: infrastructure, access, culture, and information resources,” Kimball explained.

Kimball believes the first two aspects of his four-part technology plan are key to paving a school district’s way to the information superhighway: In order to harness technology’s true potential, leaders must first pay attention to infrastructure and access, he said.

Lake Washington has already achieved a large portion of its hardware and software goals. “We have rewired our whole school district with fiber optic cables at all levels,” Kimball stated. “We have fiber optics direct to our classrooms.”

High-bandwidth technology provided through fiber-optics is especially impressive, considering there are school systems nationwide still waiting for any kind of internet access.

In addition to very high-speed internet access for Lake Washington’s students, Kimball has helped the district achieve one of the best student to computer ratios in the nation, with four students to every multimedia computer district-wide.

But Kimball and his district are not just committed to providing their students with computers and internet access. As part of its infrastructure initiatives, the district has pledged that none of its equipment will be any older than five years.

“That means that in any given year, we upgrade 20 percent of our equipment,” Kimball noted, and added that Lake Washington students are learning how to use very current equipment.

Culture of technology

The district is currently focusing its energies on the third part of the four-fold technology plan by trying to create a culture of technology at Lake Washington.

In order to ensure that teachers are provided with the training they need to utilize Lake Washington’s high-level technology for teaching and learning, district leaders have implemented a four-step professional development program.

The first step helps turn computer-illiterate educators into “information navigators.” Kimball defined the information navigator as a staff member who “can demonstrate basic skills.” These teachers and administrators should be able to use and apply software such as Word, Excel, and Access, use search engines to find information on the world wide web, and feel comfortable with Windows-based architecture.

The district has set teacher standards to be proficiency-based rather than “seat-time” based, according to Kimball, which means teachers must demonstrate an actual cache of computer knowledge, not just an attendance at computer training sessions.

The second level that educators are encouraged to attain is the “information integrator.” Kimball defines this type of staff member as one who “can integrate technology into a student-centered, project-based curriculum.” Integrators attempt to facilitate a technology-rich environment at their school, Kimball said, and Lake Washington plans to foster this philosophy by sending all 13,000 teachers in the district to a six-day summer institute on the subject.

The third level that tech-culture leaders in the district hope to achieve is the “information synthesizer.” This is a person who can use computer data effectively in order to assess statistics, look at patterns, and understand demographics to better serve students.

Kimball hopes that many educators will reach the highest level of technology culture and become what Lake Washington calls an “information mentor.” Mentors have the capabilities necessary to teach other colleagues how to use technology effectively.

He estimates that 50 percent of the staff is now up to the “navigator” level, and about 250 educators are “integrators” as of last summer’s training institute. In order to ensure that the district is not supplying untrained teachers with high-tech equipment, schools only become eligible for computer upgrades after a certain number of educators have completed integrator training. The district expects 500 educators to attend the institute next summer and another 500 to attend in 2001.

Kimball’s philosophy on staff development in schools indicates his commitment to providing Lake Washington students with a technology-rich learning environment: “We have high expectations of our staff. We don’t want you to work here unless you are comfortable with and able to use technology.”

The emphasis on computer learning is also demonstrated by the fact that the only way to get a job at Lake Washington School District is through the web.

The fourth and final stage of Kimball’s technology plan—the information resource component—is a wide-reaching goal for all educational activities to be accessible electronically. For example, if students are studying the Civil War, they could log on to the district’s network; receive a list of all appropriate sites, texts, and sources; find their assignment; and receive instruction and feedback. Lake Washington already has its card catalogs, encyclopedias, and other sources online.

Kimball said that Lake Washington is working on this final goal in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Education, and the district hopes to have this component operational by next fall. But, he added, “We’ve had problems finding adequate products. We may have to develop this [component] ourselves.”

Lake Washington School District



Newslines–ACLU attacks New Mexico internet censorship law

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the New Mexico Attorney General’s office wrapped up their arguments Sept. 21 over the validity of a New Mexico law that seeks to prevent children from viewing “harmful material” online.

In June, Federal District Court Judge C. LeRoy Hansen issued a temporary injunction against the state law, which is similar to the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), after hearing arguments that it would have a “chilling effect” on internet speech.

The state appealed the lower court ruling, asking the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the legislation, which was signed into law by New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in March. Observers expected the appeals court to render its decision sometime in the next six months.

Most of the CDA’s provisions were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court following the law’s passage. But in addition to First Amendment arguments, the ACLU is challenging the New Mexico law on the grounds that it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“New Mexico can’t pass a law that affects people in other states,” ACLU attorney Ann Beeson said.

Experts expect the ACLU to use this case as a stepping stone on the way to an all-out battle set to commence in November over the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which has been dubbed CDA II by some of its opponents.


Ethics & Law: This legal loophole just might cover your Y2K prep

As the days until the year 2000 (Y2K) tick off into double digits, the concern about the impact of the date change in data processing seems to be diminishing (unless you are taking a midnight plane to Pakistan), but another lurking concern is just beginning to blossom.

What could be a worse Y2K nightmare than programmers without a firm grip on their date digits? Lawyers! The active and creative minds of the legal community have been churning the Y2K possibilities for several years now. Even though fewer than 100 Y2K lawsuits have actually been filed across the country, the potential for Y2K litigation becoming a growth industry is serious.

A couple of recent lawsuits between major high-tech companies and their insurance carriers highlight the two major reasons why Y2K lawsuits are inevitable. First, there is the money: Companies have spent big dollars fixing their hardware and software so that business will continue uninterrupted into the new year. They understandably would like to spread the spending pain around a bit.

Second, there is the money: Lawyers representing the parties fighting over the Y2K dollars will take a big chunk for themselves. The more creative the legal theories used to justify these claims, the longer it will take for the courts to sort it out. All the while, the clock on legal fees is ticking and the costs go up.

The case of Xerox Corp. v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. was filed just one day after the case of American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. v. Xerox Corp. Xerox, of course, has spent more than $180 million to fix its Y2K problems. It wants the insurance company to cover some of those costs. The insurance company, in turn, does not want to share the pain for expenses it did not anticipate covering when it established the rates for premiums.

Although most large insurance companies are selling policies that specifically cover Y2K-related losses, the litigation brought by Xerox (as well as Unisys and GTE against their insurance carriers) is not based on Y2K policy claims. It is brought under a rather obscure provision of the plaintiffs’ property insurance coverage.

The concept is simple. For centuries, insurance companies have included a simple cost-reduction provision in their property insurance policies. Generically known as “Sue and Labor” clauses, these provisions require policyholders to reduce the potential damage from pending calamities by taking steps to get their property out of harm’s way or shielding their property from even greater damage.

For example, if you had property insurance coverage that would repair your roof if a big tree fell on it, and a lightning strike or flood weakened the tree and it was about to fall on your house, the “Sue and Labor” clause would require you to cut the tree down. The insurance company would then reimburse you for the expense. The clause benefits both parties, because it is cheaper to cut down a tree than fix a smashed roof, and far less inconvenient for the policyholder to have to wait until the disaster actually occurs.

In the Y2K lawsuits, the plaintiffs point to “loss or damages” provisions in their policies that cover “destruction, distortion, or corruption of computer data, coding, programs, or software.” Then they cite the “Sue and Labor” clause, which reads (somewhat arcanely, because these clauses have been around since the 17th century), “in case of actual or imminent loss or damage by a peril insured against, it shall, without prejudice to this insurance, be lawful and necessary for the Insured to sue, labor, and travel for, in and about the defense, the safeguard, and the recovery of the property or any part of the property insured.”

It will be an interesting court battle, with the insurance companies claiming that the Y2K fixes were ordinary business expenses that otherwise did not fit the “impending disaster” scenario of the “Sue and Labor” clause. Insurers will also cite the notice requirements of the clauses, and they’ll point out that public statements by the big companies (in SEC stock disclosures, for example) may contradict their claims.

It will be very tough for large, sophisticated technology companies to prevail on these claims—but, as the lawyers say, nothing ventured…

So, what does all of this have to do with you? The legal theory of Y2K coverage under “Sue and Labor” clauses may actually be more useful to smaller and less technically sophisticated policyholders such as school districts, and even more useful to those of you who have waited too long to address Y2K problems.

In your case, the looming Y2K peril may be more real. If your district’s property insurance contains the key language on coverage of “computers and software” (many do) and the “Sue and Labor” clause (most do), and you have incurred expenses to keep from having a Y2K disaster, and there are no specific exclusions in your property insurance policy, you might want to give your legal counsel a jingle to discuss filing a claim.

If your lawyer believes you have a case, he or she might even pursue the claim on a contingent fee basis. Hey—nothing ventured…


IT Happens: Choosing a filter that’s right for your schools

As you might recall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment over the summer requiring schools receiving federal money to install content filters on their internet connections. The amendment was part of the House Juvenile Justice Bill, and at press time, members from both the House and the Senate were convening to hash out a final version.

Although I oppose such a law for many reasons, I think it would be prudent for network administrators who have not yet installed filters to begin looking into the pros and cons of different systems in order to find a product that best suits their needs. This month, I’d like to look at features offered in various filtering systems and discuss why they might or might not be valuable.

I don’t intend this column to be a product review or endorsement. There are many ways to accomplish good content control, and a product that works well for one school or district might be completely unsuitable for another. The issues below, however, demand consideration by anyone who wants to install a filter.


The first thing I would consider in the installation of a filter is its placement in your network. Some filters are installed right on the local machines. Often, these are less expensive and more straightforward to install, but they are also the most vulnerable to defeat by tech-savvy students. If you are filtering a machine that has only a dial-up connection to the internet, this is your only choice; but if you’re trying to filter an entire network, I would recommend going with a proxy server-based filter.

A proxy server is a machine that stands between your students’ computers and the internet. The browser on the client machines is configured to direct all requests to the proxy server, and it is the proxy server that actually goes out to the internet to fill those requests. Most proxy servers also cache the content they retrieve, so subsequent accesses of the same page from your network can be served at 10 or 100 Mbps instead of 1.5 Mbps. Some proxies also perform firewall filtering at the data-link layer and network layers. Others can double as Virtual Private Network servers.

A filter installed on a proxy server is much harder to defeat because the students don’t have physical access to the proxy machine. The key here is designing your internet protocol (IP) network so students are forced to go through the proxy server. The most common way this type of filtering is defeated is by changing the browser and/or IP settings to circumvent the proxy.

To defend against this, network managers can use a combination of private IP addresses and an Access Control List (ACL) on the router connecting them to the internet. If a client computer can only get to the internet through the proxy server, changing browser settings will do nothing to circumvent the filter. I assign an address in the private range of through to all the machines in my network. These addresses work fine on our network, but will not route beyond our network. Therefore, the client machine has to get its internet content from the proxy server, or it doesn’t get content at all.

Even though Windows NT Workstation security prevents users from changing IP addresses—and the average student wouldn’t be able to guess a routable IP address even if he could—I have also configured our router to block all but two or three of our public addresses, just to be safe. These few routable addresses are to allow our eMail server and our web server to send and receive packets directly to and from the internet. If a student were savvy enough to guess one of these routable addresses and to actually change the address of his machine, the OS would detect that it is already in use on the network and disable it.

Filtering method

Another major consideration in choosing a filter is the method used to filter content. Some filters use keyword-based filtering, which blocks pages and searches that contain particular words. Filters such as these will keep up fairly well with new sites as they are created, but they are invariably prone to errors. They are not yet smart enough to accurately determine context and erroneously block things like the Essex County home page. Last year, Jamie McKenzie’s From Now On site was blocked by a keyword filter because of his page on “Adult Education.”

Because of these relatively unpredictable types of errors, I prefer a filter based on a database of sites which have been previewed and rated by a human being who can determine the context of the content. While I don’t always agree with their ratings, these types of filters are not prone to blatant errors such as blocking “Essex” or “Adult Education.”

The weakness of these filters is that it’s impossible to view and rate all the sites on the internet as their number grows exponentially. Some companies also offer a subscription service where, for an annual fee of about $1,000, you can download monthly updates to the company’s block list.

Schools should also consider whether or not search engine results are filtered. Sometimes the content placed in a page’s meta tags can be just as offensive and distracting to a class project as the page itself. Some filters will scan the results of a search engine query for inappropriate words or phrases, while others will prevent users from submitting queries containing certain words. These, too, are susceptible to context-based errors, but as artificial intelligence technology improves, so will the accuracy of these filters.


The flexibility of filtering rules is of critical importance, especially in schools or districts serving a wide range of grade levels. You may wish to filter different content for your middle school than you do for your high school, for example, or you may want your kindergarten to only have access to a certain number of pre-selected sites. A well designed system should support the following types of rules:

• Different access based on login name

• Different access based on IP address or subnet

• Different access based on time of day

• Filtering by access type (ftp, http, etc.)

• Override of blocked sites

Administrators should be able to combine these rules to block access to inappropriate sites from students, while leaving access open for administrators to review sites to include in coursework if they so choose. Your system should also have the flexibility to block access to the internet completely from a single lab during a class when the teacher doesn’t need it and wants to minimize distractions, without disrupting access from any other labs.


Because our filter uses a database of previewed sites to filter content, the easiest way to defeat this type of filter is for a user to continuously search for inappropriate sites until he or she finds one that isn’t in the database. Even with monthly updates, it is impossible to keep up with the growing number of web sites on the internet.

Because of this, reporting has been a critical tool in the enforcement of our acceptable use policy. If the usernames of people who violate the filtering rules are recorded to a log which is checked on a regular basis, students who try to defeat the filter by “brute force” are easily identifiable. We can then disable the accounts of students who try to defeat the filter, and we can block all internet access indefinitely for repeat offenders or call in parents for conferences when necessary.

I like this type of setup because it goes beyond technology to put more responsibility on the human beings involved. Administrators can check logs to find sites that are being blocked erroneously and edit override rules accordingly. Students know they are being held responsible, not to a machine or program, but rather to the adults in their school and ultimately to their parents. This is filtering at its best.


Grants & Funding: Five simple steps to organizing your grant search

Having good organizational skills is critical for grant writers. If you’ve done any grant research before, you know there are thousands of sources of money out there—including federal, state, foundation, and corporate sources. You can search the internet for sources of money, you can look at funding directories, you can search in foundation and corporate directories, or you can read education-related newsletters and newspapers to learn the availability of funds.

This plethora of information is mind-boggling and can be overwhelming. So, how do you conduct an organized grant search that yields you viable sources to pursue?

The first step is to have a specific idea or project that needs to be funded. Start with a project, then try to match it with funders’ interests. Searching for “what’s out there” in terms of funding, rather than looking for funds for a specific project, will leave you with sources upon sources—and no clear idea of which ones to seriously pursue.

Trying to craft an idea or a project based on the interests of the funding sources, meanwhile, is a monumental task that will take more time than you have. Approaching grant seeking in this manner will most often result in proposals that cannot make a strong case for being funded, because the need can’t be tied directly to your students and teachers.

The next step is to narrow the type of funding you’re looking for—federal, state, foundation, or corporate support. Depending on which of these you want to pursue, you can focus on exactly where you need to look (for example, specific directories, your state Department of Education, the Federal Register, etc.) to find information about these sources.

Third, create a list of keywords that relate to your idea or project to use as you search. For example, say you’ve designed a project that will improve the literacy skills of third-graders from several states. Looking for grants that fund “projects for elementary students” is too broad, so you need to add more information. Looking for “federal grants that fund projects that focus on literacy skills for elementary students” will result in a much more viable list of possible sources.

Fourth, do a methodical search. If you’re looking for several types of funding, such as federal and foundation sources, it will be less confusing if you look for sources of federal funds first, then move to the foundation sources, instead of jumping back and forth between the two. (You might also find other leads for funding as you search, so make a list of these potential sources and later search for those, too.)

After completing a methodical search, it’s time to prioritize the most viable sources. You’ll need to take the following into consideration as you prioritize:

• The amount of funds available—do you need more than the source is distributing?

• The deadline for the proposals—do you have time in your schedule to work on it?

• The “fit” with the funding guidelines—is it strong or weak?

• The amount of materials required in the proposal—do you have these items or will they be difficult to assemble in time for the deadline?

• The amount of staff available to put the proposal together—will you have to do this all by yourself?

Taking all these factors into consideration, devise a list of the most viable sources and start making timelines to complete the proposals.

Following these five easy steps should help you to lead an organized grant search that will result in viable funding sources to apply to and a starting point for working on proposals with a relatively stress-free approach!


Grant Deadlines


ICONnect Collaboration through Technology

The American Library Association/American Association of School Librarians (ALA/AASL) is taking applications for its 2000 ICPrize for Collaboration through Technology competition. The program will award five $1,000 ICPrizes to collaborative teams of library media specialists and classroom teachers who have demonstrated a meaningful and effective use of internet resources in a completed curriculum unit. Applications must be submitted by an ALA/AASL member and must successfully demonstrate a collaboration between the library media specialist and classroom teacher(s). Applications and specific evaluation criteria are available online.

Deadline: Nov. 1

(800) 545-2433



Growth Initiatives for Teachers (GIFT)

This year, another 120 public and private school math and science teachers, grades 7 to 12, in 35 eligible states and the District of Columbia, will receive grants through this program from the GTE Foundation. GIFT was established to promote the integration of math and science in the classroom, encourage innovative uses of technology in education, and provide recognition and new opportunities for outstanding teachers. Each year, GTE awards GIFT grants to 60 teams consisting of one math and one science teacher from the same secondary school who have developed school enrichment projects that integrate math and science and use technology in a creative way. Each winning team shares a $12,000 grant—$7,000 to implement the project and $5,000 ($2,500 each) for the participating teachers to pursue professional development activities.

Deadline: Jan. 14

(800) 315-5010


Toyota TAPESTRY Grants

Fifty of the nation’s best and brightest K-12 teachers will be awarded up to $10,000 each to implement innovative science projects through this program, sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales and administered by the National Science Teachers Association. Successful grant-winning projects, such as a mobile observatory to study light pollution and an interactive paleontology laboratory, often include the use of technology. Individual science teachers or a team of up to five teachers can submit proposals in two categories: environmental education and physical science applications (applied physics, chemistry, and technology). A judging panel of distinguished science educators will evaluate and select the award-winning projects, based on their innovative approaches in teaching science, ability to create a stimulating and hands-on learning environment, interdisciplinary approach, and ability to increase student participation and interest in science. To obtain Toyota TAPESTRY guidelines and entry forms, write to Toyota TAPESTRY Grants for Teachers, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201-3000, call the number listed below, or eMail tapestry@nsta.org.

Deadline: Jan. 20

(800) 807-9852


Connections to the Internet

This National Science Foundation (NSF) program helps fund internet connections at K-12 schools, public libraries, and museums. This is a highly competitive, cost-sharing grant that will reward “only highly innovative approaches,” such as microwave or wireless laser technologies. Project costs may include the acquisition and maintenance of hardware and software to establish institutional access to the internet, as well as the installation and recurring charges for a communication channel. Conversely, funds may also be used to acquire internet connections and services from an external service provider. NSF typically awards $15,000 during a two-year period to successful applicants. Consortia may apply for larger awards.

Deadline: Jan. 31 (for preliminary applications)

(703) 306-1636



Community Development Grants

Concept papers are being accepted for this Sun Microsystems program, which provides grants for projects in the southern San Francisco Bay area, Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts, and Front Range, Colo. The goal of this grant program is to increase education and employment opportunities for people who live and work in or near Sun’s major employment centers. In education, the program supports projects that seek to help reverse unsatisfactory school performance. Proposals should incorporate the target population’s needs and interests, engage students in activities that enable them to make experimental connections between learning and real life, foster motivation and improve academic skills, and improve college readiness. The deadline noted is for concept papers, with invitations for full proposals set for Dec. 15 and full applications due Jan. 15. Concept papers, which should be no more than three pages in length, should include the applicant’s mission or goals, a brief description of the target population and project, an explanation of how the project will be evaluated, the roles and responsibilities of participants, and qualifications of key staff. Proof of nonprofit status should also be included.

Deadline: Nov. 15

(650) 336-0487

http://www.sun.com/corporateoverview/ corpaffairs/grants.html


Building Effective Roadmaps for the Information Superhighway

To promote effective internet research skills and media literacy in K-12 education, N2H2 Inc. has introduced two contests in conjunction with the nonprofit Computer Learning Foundation. The Lesson Plan Contest (deadline Nov. 30) requires participants to submit a lesson plan that teaches children an aspect of internet research or helps them develop information literacy skills. The Curriculum Contest (deadline April 1) requires entrants to submit an original curriculum for teaching students internet research skills, which should include lesson plans, handouts for students, worksheets, and other information that would enable teachers to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. Both entries will be judged on originality, quality of the pedagogy and written communication, and potential effectiveness. N2H2 hopes to encourage educators to teach important internet research and literacy skills, such as how to organize a search for information, how to use internet search tools, how to narrow a search, and how to assess the quality of the information found. N2H2 will award 12 grand prizes of Windows-compatible computers, 12 second prizes of CD-ROM recorders, and 12 third prizes of $100 software gift certificates to winners.

Deadlines: Nov. 30, 1999 and April 1, 2000

(800) 971-2622


Microsoft Curriculum Grant Program

Microsoft Corp. sponsors the Curriculum Grant Program for middle schools, high schools, and secondary-level vocational and technical schools to encourage the development of computer science, programming, web development, and information systems curricula. Schools can receive free software licenses for Microsoft Visual Development Tools and operating systems—such as Visual Basic, Visual C++, Office 2000 Developer Edition, Windows 98, and NT Workstation—in exchange for posting and sharing current curricula on Microsoft’s Academic Cooperative web site. Each department within a school is eligible to apply for a grant. Applications will be accepted online only, beginning Nov. 1.

Deadline: Dec. 31



Grant Awards

$250,000 in equipment from Cytronics Technology

To provide technology to middle school children in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch School District in Texas. Cytronics, a Dallas-based full-service systems integrator, is a major sponsor for a pilot program called “In-Step,” with the goal of providing affordable laptop computers to students. The In-Step program allows students to purchase laptop computers for use in school or at home. Cytronics is supplying the Compaq laptops to the school district at cost, including software and a three-year warranty. With technology sponsored in part by Cytronics, sixth-graders at Vivian Field Middle School will have the option to purchase a laptop, giving them 24-hour access to technology.


$150,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

To La Salle High School of Yakima, Wash., in order to fund the purchase of computer hardware and software. Funds from the grant will be used to create a writing lab for English classes, with laptops for each student; to network all computers at the permanent school in Union Gap with a vital link to the internet; to purchase computers connected to a CD-ROM tower for sharing software and resources; and to purchase student recordkeeping software. Teachers will be able to use computers as a writing tool and will be able to evaluate five papers in the time it takes to grade one hand-written assignment. Founded in 1994, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an asset base of $17 billion and makes grants to schools in Washington state to fund computer technology.


$100,000 in equipment from United Parcel Service

To Hungry Horse schools in Montana, in order to build and equip a computer lab for Canyon Elementary. The money donated by UPS helped build a 30- by 38-foot building, complete with 11 internet-ready computers for the students at Canyon. In the past, students from Hungry Horse who wanted to use computers had to go to nearby Columbia Falls, Mont., to use their facilities. The employee-owned, nonprofit UPS Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the delivery service, and this is the second year it has helped provide funds to improve education in a needy area. Montana’s Gov. Marc Racicot nominated Hungry Horse for the donation when approached for ideas by UPS and helped build the computer lab.


$70,000 in software from Corel Corp.

To 14 Oklahoma City-area schools destroyed in a series of tornadoes. After the tornadoes hit in May, Hastings Entertainment Inc., a leading multimedia entertainment retailer in the United States, started gathering software from several major software manufacturers to donate to the 14 schools that were destroyed or significantly damaged. Corel joined other educational software companies, such as Havas and The Learning Company, in making the donation.



Best Practices: DocuShare links schools and educators with its web-based interface

New York’s Wayne-Finger Lakes Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) has teamed up with Xerox Corp. to deploy the company’s advanced knowledge-sharing software, DocuShare, across the region’s school systems. The new system is saving time and improving communication between districts and educators, its users say.

DocuShare is a web-based document management system that allows users to easily store, access, and share information in an interactive work environment. School personnel who aren’t familiar with hypertext markup language (HTML) can pass along information on the district’s intranet without having to go through a web master or site administrator first.

All items stored on DocuShare are organized using nested folders, called “collections.” Items such as files, calendars, bulletin boards, and web links can be stored in these collections—and can appear in more than one collection at a time—while remaining easy to access through DocuShare’s search features.

The software also features a “What’s New” component, where new additions can easily be checked. It has a search function that lets users find items by keywords or attributes, and it features a table of contents for easy navigation.

Because it’s web-based, DocuShare does not require the purchase of specialized software, as it can be used from any standard web browser on any computer platform and operating system from which internet access is available. This means that DocuShare minimizes cross-platform problems and allows schools using Macs and PCs to interface, according to Jack McCabe, assistant superintendent for curriculum and technology at Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

In addition to these characteristics, DocuShare includes Windows Client, which enables users to download and install a Windows feature so they can drag and drop files to DocuShare as though it were a mapped drive. Innovative templating files allow users to customize DocuShare’s web browser to blend with their current web presence. The system also can run huge Oracle databases.

DocuShare can be used at two levels. As a guest, users can view and browse the community repository, but they cannot create collections or edit documents. As a logged-in user, you can create collections, files, and objects, submit information to the repository, and edit information.

All these features mean that teachers, administrators, and anyone else provided with a passcode and at least some level of access can view the documents they need to see related to their child’s school or district. Teachers can use the system to set up homework helplines and classroom web pages where students can go to get assignments.

According to McCabe, there are significant benefits to using a document sharing platform in schools: “First, it is very simple to use. And second, as a tool it allows the user to discover different applications related to document management and sharing information among users.”

Practically, it allows teachers to share curricula and lesson plans and gives them access to other class information, and it allows committees and groups to have their own virtual workspace. “DocuShare can provide a back-up to school web pages. This is where important information can be disseminated,” added McCabe.

Docushare also allows educators to use their time more effectively, because they can review the documents posted by other users directly on the site. This way, there is less need to call time-consuming meetings.

“There’s an illusion of education in schools around hardware, with the attached inference that high-tech schools are those with high-tech hardware,” McCabe said.

But, according to McCabe, the most critical issue is whether educators have training and access to the technology available to them: “The real innovation is to create tools and structure which inspire learning and higher productivity. DocuShare helps bring people into the community of users.”

McCabe also values DocuShare for its cost-effectiveness. Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES bought an unlimited license for around $25,000—and the system serves 80,000 students throughout the BOCES, as well as 8,500 teachers, administrators, and staff.

Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES


Xerox Corp.



http://docushare.xerox.com/marketing/ index.shtml