Internet Filtering Policy
In accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the Smithfield Public Schools is required to have in place an internet filtering device or service on all computers with Internet access. The Internet filter should protect minors from access to visual depictions that are obscene or constitute child pornography, or that are harmful to minors, as defined below:
Harmful to minors, means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that--
- taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;
- depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and
- taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.
The internet filtering device or service should also function as part of the District’s network security system and should block sites that are harmful to the network or users, such as malware.
District Technology Committee
The District shall appoint a Technology Committee, which shall include educators, administrators, and technology staff. Deciding what categories of content to filter shall be made by the Technology Committee in consultation with the administrative team. Principles of academic freedom shall be considered in deciding what categories to filter. Filtering categories will be differentiated based upon user groups, for example staff, high school students, middle school students, and elementary students.
The Technology Committee shall prepare a document with the list of filtered categories that have been chosen and a brief explanation of the educational or legal basis for the decision to filter each category. This document shall be published on the District’s technology website. The Technology committee shall annually review the filtered categories annually and make recommendations to the Director of Technology or his/her designee for any adjustments.
Requests to Unblock Website
Websites may be unblocked in certain circumstances for anyone who meets the following criteria:
- Educational purposes – there is educational material being blocked by the filtering system. Where access to a specific site consistent with the purpose of education is blocked, the site shall be unblocked, provided that the site does not pose a threat to the district’s network or resources.
- Staff related purposes – a staff member needs a website unblocked related to their job (such as purchasing, law enforcement, bona fide research).
Any person requesting to have a site unblocked should submit a formal request to the Director of Technology or his/her designee through the District’s online ticketing system. The request submission will include:
- Date of the request
- Website address to be unblocked
- Explanation of purpose for unblocking the site (refer to criteria above)
- Name and role or position of the requester
If deemed appropriate to the criteria mentioned above and if there is no threat to the district’s network or resources, the site will immediately be unblocked and access granted.
If a request to unblock a website is denied, the Director of Technology or his/her designee will provide the specific reasons as to why the request was denied as well as the individual’s right to appeal the decision. Further appeals may be made in writing to the Superintendent or his/her designee requesting that the denial be overturned.
The District will maintain a record of any requests made to unblock a website and all copies of responses provided through the District’s online ticketing system. The District will submit annual reports to the school committee each June regarding the number of requests granted and denied to unblock a site. The results of the report shall be used to review the filtering categories in place and consider modifications to them or to the administrative procedures in place.
LEGAL REF: R.I.G.L. 16-21.61-1