There are many laws and policies that all employees need to be aware of if they are publishing content to the web. This page covers the most important laws, as well as the relevant NEOLA School Board policies and District Directives. This page does not present a fully complete list of all Federal and State laws regarding school and teacher websites, and should be used for reference only. As new information arrives, this document will be updated.

Federal Laws

There are four Federal Acts (Laws) that schools need to be familiar with in order to keep students safe online and follow - CIPA, COPPA, FERPA, and ADA Section 508. Here are brief summaries of all four:

1. CIPA

What is it? The Children's Internet Protection Act requires K-12 schools and libraries to use Internet filters to protect children from harmful online content. If schools do not provide Internet filtering, they can lose some federal funding.

What do employees have to do to conform to it? Our District's Information Services department provides Internet filtering, so teachers and schools don't have to worry about the filtering requirement.  They do, however, still need to supervise student usage of the Internet.  If a teacher knows of a student who is willingfully attempting to bypass the District filter, the teacher is required to intervene and prevent the student from doing so.

2. COPPA

What is it? The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was designed to protect children's privacy and restrict marketing to students. Essentially it means that a company cannot collect personal information about a child online without obtaining permission from the child's parent. In the case of COPPA, this information includes student names, email addresses, home addresses, names of parents, and any other personal information.

What do employees have to do to conform to it? Employees must ensure that they (or the school) have a signed parent permission form authorizing them to use a website before using that site with a student, IF the website will end up having any of the student's personal information. An additional requirement is that the website is required to post a privacy policy on the homepage of the website, and maintain the confidentiality, security and integrity of the personal information collected from children.

3. FERPA

What is it? The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was designed to ensure that students have access to their education records, an opportunity to seek to have the records amended, and some control over the disclosure of information from the records. The information covered includes but is not limited to student grades and behavior.

What do employees have to do to conform to it? Employees must ensure that they do not place any student grades or behavior information online in an area that can be seen by anyone other than the student and his or her guardians. An important exception to this is "directory information," which may be used online because it is not considered private. Directory information includes many items, most importantly name, address, email address, recognized school activities such as sports or clubs, and awards. For a complete listing of directory information, visit http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/students.html.

4. Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 508

What is it? Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifies that federal electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.

What do employees have to do to conform to it? Employees who place content on the web must be aware of the act and if an issue arises, to either implement a fix themselves or work with their School Webmaster or District Website Coordinator to come up with a solution. There are a few simple things schools can do to be ADA compliant. There are:

  • Always use the "Alternative Text" attribute for images. WordPress makes this easy - when you upload an image, there's a field for Alternative Text. This is the information used by screen readers for visually impaired students. It is MOST important to do this on the school website.
  • Don't use Flash. Screen reader software doesn't do well with it, and a huge number of smart phones and tablets can't display it. If you have to use it, make sure that all of the information in the Flash file is available via plain text or plain HTML.

NEOLA School Board Policies

There are several District policies that govern anything published by an employee on the web. Schools are required to abide by these policies for all web pages and sites. The following list summarizes the policies most relevant to publishing content to the web. To see all NEOLA School Board Policies, visit http://www.neola.com/pasco-fl/

  • Students are allowed to create and publish web pages, but must be supervised by an instructional staff member.
  • If published content includes a photo or student information, parents can refuse to permit the release of directory information for their child.
  • Websites cannot be used for commercial purposes, advertising by individuals or businesses, lobbying for political candidates, or financial gains for any individual.
  • Websites are allowed to thank business partners, but by name only - they cannot include the business partner's logo or link to the business partner's website.
  • Websites cannot post statements or other items that support or oppose a candidate for public office, a tax levy, or bond issue.
  • All school, school related, and teacher websites must be located on Board-affiliated servers. Currently, the options are: Connect, Connect Plus, Connect for Schools, eSembler, and Canvas.
  • All links must be CIPA and COPPA compliant.
  • School Webmasters must check school website links for CIPA and COPPA compliance on a regular basis.
  • School PTO and PTA websites cannot be hosted on school or district servers.

Supplemental Information

Additional information regarding School Board policies will be posted in this section, along with the date the information was posted.

  • Schools DO have permission to display logos of district affiliated services such as mylunchmoney.com and eSembler. (01/16/14)
  • Schools DO have permission to display logos for district approved fundraising organizations such as Cambell's Soup Labels for Education and Box Tops for Education. (01/16/14)
  • For activities such as McDonald's school nights, schools may mention the company but not display the logo. If the company has a web page or web site dedicated to the activity, schools have permission to link to it. (01/16/14)

If you have any questions, please email Richard MacLemale, the District Website Coordinator.