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Derry district may update policy on electronic devices in schools

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It's out with the Walkman and in with the iPad in a proposed update for the Derry Area School District's electronic devices policy, which attempts to modernize the rules dictating students' gadget use.

The proposed policy has not yet been finalized or approved by the school board.

Policy now completely bans the use of electronic devices by students during school hours. If passed, the update would allow them to use their electronic devices for personal reasons when not in class, though they would still be subject to all school rules regarding Internet usage and cyberbullying.

In the classroom, students would be allowed to use their devices only for instructional purposes, as decided by the teacher.

“It is quite a change from our past policy. There's been a lot of new language added,” said Superintendent David Welling at a special board meeting on Thursday.

The updated language says the school needs to limit devices for the safety of students and employees while allowing for “a curriculum that integrates the development of 21st century skills and provides all students with access to the tools needed for learning.”

The proposed update also removes references to outdated devices like the Walkman and radios, while adding mentions of newer gadgets like iPads.

It would add language prohibiting students from taking and distributing photographs of school property, or from using electronic devices for cheating or copying instructional materials without permission.

The proposed rules on photos drew discussion from the board. Several board members said students regularly share photos from school on social media sites, and that preventing these photos would be difficult.

“It's a beast. It's very difficult to control,” said Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Walters.

The policy changes will be discussed several more times. The board is not expected to vote before the end of August at the earliest, Welling said.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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