LOWELL | As the use of technology in schools expands with more school districts instituting a one-to-one computer program, schools are reinforcing Internet safety.
Debra Howe, superintendent of the Tri-Creek Community School Corp. which most recently instituted a one-to-one laptop program for students, said parent education on Internet safety is also important.
The district has scheduled a parent seminar for Feb. 12 called "Internet Safety: How to Keep Your Students Safe Online."
Middle-school students at Tri-Creek are allowed to use the laptop at school, while high school students can take it home.
Howe said the Tri-Creek School Corp.'s intent is to make Internet access available to further educational goals and objectives. The district has put measures in place to regulate student access. It requires students and parents to sign an Acceptable Use Policy for Network and Internet Use.
She said the parent's signature indicates they accept full responsibility for supervision when the student's use is not at school.
School administrators recently looked into an issue where a parent said her 12-year-old daughter used a school laptop to communicate with what she thought were two teenage boys who the mother believes were grown men instead.
The girl has two older brothers at Lowell High School and accessed one of their computers while at home, she believes.
The mother reported the incident to the police and to school officials. She believes if students didn't have access to the laptops, the incident might not have occurred.
Lowell Police Chief John Shelhart said two officers took a report from the family but were not able to determine the age of the two people the girl had connected with.
"It did not appear that anything inappropriate had transpired between the two," Shelhart said. "The school puts together a thorough educational class when they issue these computers. We have had practically no problems regarding the computers."
Howe said the district invested in a "robust" firewall and monitors student actions on the Internet. She said students at all levels are provided educational experiences regrading cyberbullying, the dangers of the Internet and digital citizenship.
This year, Learning.Com modules and assessments are in place for elementary and middle school students regarding safe Internet use. The iSafe program was selected for high school students.