Having an acceptable-use policy for what a teacher or student can put on a school-related web site is essential to protecting school administrators from headaches and legal hassles. To minimize the potential for harm, it’s essential to have a document that spells out in clear language the key policies in a number of areas. Here are the six issues your policy must address:

1. Roles and responsibilities. Make sure that a trained, responsible adult oversees use of the web, as well as the material published on the web sites of the district and its individual schools and classes. A separate person with technical skills should be assigned the task of webmaster.

2. Educational value. Make it clear that school sites support an educational mission and that utmost care must be taken that all information and images published are fair and accurate.

3. Privacy. Don’t give away a student’s privacy by providing information that the student or her parents do not want published. Think very carefully about letting students and teachers link their own home pages to the school’s web site.

4. Copyright rules. These must be emphasized because it is so easy for items to be copied illegally online.

5. Technical standards. Set rules for file size, graphics, etc., so that the system is not overwhelmed. Also, make sure that the webmaster and editor regularly remove old or extraneous information from your sites.

6. Commercialism. What commercial links will you allow? Is fund-raising to be treated differently than advertising? Decide on a policy and decide who will enforce that policy.