Thursday, December 20, 2012

School Districts Must Filter School-Supplied iPads; Internet Safety Law Now Extends Filtering Beyond School Grounds, Thanks to Parents in Manitou Springs, Colorado

The American educational experience is transforming at a fast pace.  Parents from shore to shore are being outpaced by technology and school districts sending students home with portable computers that are not only cutting edge for technology but prepackaged with unrestricted Wi-Fi Internet access.  Rapid deployment of such devices comes with temptations and dangers.

Now there is a model for a more effective means to protect children, thanks to concerned parents in Manitou Springs, Colorado.  They worked with the Colorado legislature to tighten school technology laws to require schools to address technology concerns everywhere, not just on school grounds.  Similar changes can be made in the laws of other states so more children are better protected from harm.

Children’s Internet Protection Act

The vast majority of public schools have complied with the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA, enacted 2000, found constitutional 2003) that requires “protection measures [that] must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are … obscene … or … harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).”  (N1)

School Grounds Only Expedient Position and Resultant Harm

Among districts that provide students with portable devices, a small minority have taken the expedient but imprudent position that school owned portable computers are exempt from CIPA requirements once the children leave school grounds, and that parents must accept exclusive responsibility for the monitoring of children using such unfiltered devices doing school work away from school grounds.

Kids around the nation have already suffered in districts that fail to provide CIPA protections on portable computers away from school:

  • Parents in South Carolina report students with unfiltered school portables experiencing “a veritable streaming torrent of illicit flesh….“ using school supplied iPads.  (N2)
  • Four Michigan students were arrested on felony charges for exchanging pornographic materials on iPads and leaving parents to ask “Why wasn’t the school district filtering Internet to student’s iPads?”  (N3)
  • Parents in Indiana are suing their district for allowing students “unfettered access to pornographic videos… downloaded on school computers and iPads and then 'acted out' on [an] alleged victim.”  (N4)

Manitou Springs Parents Fight Back

In Manitou Springs, Colorado, parents facing similar circumstances fought against a district policy that failed to provide CIPA protections on portable school computers used away from school.  (N5)

Despite a petition from the parents and written opinions from two attorneys validating parental objections, the Manitou Springs school administration held firm, insisting that the school had no responsibility for protecting student use of portable devices away from school grounds.  (N6)

Colorado Legislature Intervenes; Requires Filtering Everywhere, Not Just School Grounds

These determined parents then sought the intervention of the Colorado legislature.  As a result, Colorado Senator Keith King sponsored new legislation that was signed into law by Colorado Governor Hickenlooper that explicitly requires portable content filtering protections for all students in Colorado, specifically adding the key language, “from any location,” among other things:

"No later than December 31, 2012, the governing body of each district shall adopt and implement a policy of internet safety for minors that includes a technology protection measure for each technology device provided by the district that allows for access to the internet by a minor from any location.”  (N7)

With this 2012 legislation, Colorado became the first state to create law that explicitly requires that the protections required by CIPA must also protect students using school issued computers that are now increasingly portable and capable of accessing Internet networks from any location, not just at school.  And the parents love it:  “No law will completely shield our kids from all the bad stuff, but I was glad to see Colorado lawmakers side with parents and make it clear that if a school sends kids home with computers, they must make them reasonably safe for the kids to use,” says Manitou Springs parent/guardian Jim Sayner.  (N8)

Legislators and Schools Everywhere May Protect Children Using the Colorado Model

Now aware of the documented damage that unrestricted Internet access has already visited upon school children, state legislators, school boards, and administrators across the nation will perhaps adopt and implement similar common sense law to enhance the prospect of the safe and beneficial use of the vast resources technology brings to students.

At least now, the parents of Colorado children who experience such illicit mayhem on inadequately protected portables will have substantial new recourse under this new and timely law.


(N1)  “Children’s Internet Protection Act,” by Consumer & Governmental Affairs, Federal Communications Commission, 19 May 2011.

See also:
United States v. American Library Association, 539 US 194 (2003).

(N2)  “SC Public School Students Accessing Porn On iPads,” by fitsnews, FITSNews, 7 February 2012.

Note:  NSFW pornographic image is included in original version.

(N3)  “Zeeland Schools Learn From iPad Miscues; Administrators Have More Plans in Place,” by Dani Carlson, WOOD TV8, 22 August 2012.

(N4)  “Three Second-Grade Boys Accused of ‘Horrific Sexual Abuse’ of Eight-Year-Old Classmate ‘After Acting Out Scene They Saw in Porn Movie,’” by Daily Mail Reporter, Daily Mail, 2 October 2012.

(N5)  “Digital Dilemma:  Why Can’t All Districts Filter Internet Device Access from Home?,” by Eddie, Ed Is Watching, 20 February 2012.

Colorado also has its own CIPA law (CCIPA) (see N7 below)—it was CCIPA that was amended as a result of parental action.

(N6)  “School Issued Apple iPads Allow Porn in Manitou Springs School District 14, Memorandum by Morality in Media General Counsel Robert Peters on Unfiltered Internet Access,” by Robert W. Peters, Esq., SafeLibraries, 27 April 2012.

(N7)  “An Act; House Bill 12-1240, Concerning Statutory Changes to K-12 Education,” by various Representatives and Senators, Colorado Legislature, signed into law 4 June 2012; section 54, pp36-38.

For comparison, here is the older 2003 version of the Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act the was amended as described above:
Colorado Children’s Internet Protection Act,Colorado Revised Statutes, Article 87, 22-87-101 through 22-87-107; Approved by Governor June 5, 2003; effective August 15, 2003.

See also:
State Filtering/Blocking Laws” section of “Children and the Internet; Laws Relating to Filtering, Blocking and Usage Policies in Schools and Libraries,” by Pam Greenberg, National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 February 2012 (updated occasionally).

Note:  Colorado’s information has not yet been updated at that site.

(N8)  Personal communication with Jim Sayner.


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