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Saturday, March 21, 2015

New York City Department of Education Internet Policy

Internet Acceptable Use

Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy (IAUSP)

Implementing Department Resolution of February 14, 2001
Revised as of July 1, 2012

The Policy

The NYC Department of Education (“Department”) provides access to the Department’s Internet Systems for its employees, agents, students, and volunteers, collectively referred to as “users” for educational and business purposes, in conformance with applicable law.  This Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy (“policy”) governs all electronic activity of users using and accessing the Department’s Internet systems, including Department e-mail and Department-provided access to the Internet, and applies to the use of the Department Internet Systems both on and off Department property.

“The Department’s Internet Systems” means Department-provided devices, Internet connections (including wireless connections) provided by the Department, Department-provided e-mail accounts, intranet and any remote connection to Department systems.  A user is deemed to access and use the Department’s Internet Systems through any electronic activity conducted on the Department’s Internet Systems using any device (whether or not such device is a Department-provided device) regardless of the user’s physical location.
“Department-provided devices” means any electronic device provided by the Department, including, but not limited to, desktop computers, laptops, and hand-held devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, iPads, tablets and e-readers. 
Student use of the Department’s Internet Systems is governed by this policy, Department regulations, policies and guidelines, the Citywide Standards of Conduct and Uniform Disciplinary Measures (the “Discipline Code”) and applicable law. Employee use is governed by this policy, Department regulations, policies and guidelines, the Department’s employment policies, applicable collective bargaining agreements and applicable law.
By using the Department’s Internet Systems, a user agrees to follow this policy and all applicable Department regulations, policies and guidelines.  All users must report any misuse of the network or Internet or receipt of any communication that violates this policy to a teacher, supervisor or other appropriate Department personnel.

Principles of Acceptable and Safe Internet Use


Internet access and e-mail provided by the Department are intended for educational use, instruction, research and the facilitation of communication, collaboration, and other Department related purposes.  Users are subject to the same standards expected in a classroom and/or professional workplace.

Monitoring and Privacy

Users have no right to privacy while using the Department’s Internet Systems. The Department monitors users’ online activities and reserves the right to access, review, copy, store, or delete any electronic communications or files. This includes any items stored on Department-provided devices, such as files, e-mails, cookies, and Internet history. 
The Department reserves the right to disclose any electronic activity, including electronic communications, to law enforcement officials or third parties, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law. The Department will fully cooperate with local, state, or federal officials in any lawful investigation concerning or relating to any illegal activities conducted through the Department’s Internet Systems.

Prohibited Uses of the Department’s Internet Systems

Users may not engage in any of the activities prohibited by this policy when using or accessing the Department’s Internet Systems. 
If a user is uncertain whether behavior is prohibited, he or she should contact a teacher, supervisor or other appropriate Department personnel.   The Department reserves the right to take immediate action regarding activities that (1) create security and/or safety issues for the Department, students, employees, schools, network or computer resources, or (2) expend Department resources on content the Department determines lacks legitimate educational or Department content or purpose, or (3) the Department determines are inappropriate.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of examples of prohibited behavior: 
1.    Causing harm to others, damage to their property or Department property, such as:
  • Using, posting or distributing profane, lewd, vulgar, threatening, or abusive language in e-mail messages, material posted on Department web pages, or professional social media sites;
  • Accessing, using, posting, or distributing information or materials that are pornographic or otherwise obscene, advocate illegal or dangerous acts, or advocate violence or discrimination.  If users inadvertently access such information, they should immediately disclose the inadvertent access in a manner specified by their school or central division office;
  • Accessing, posting or distributing harassing, discriminatory, inflammatory, or hateful material, or making damaging or false statements about others;
  • Sending, posting, or otherwise distributing chain letters or engaging in spamming;
  • Damaging computer equipment, files, data or the Department’s Internet System in any way, including spreading computer viruses, vandalizing data, software or equipment,  damaging or disabling others’ electronic property, or engaging in conduct that could interfere or cause a danger of disruption to the Department’s educational or business environment;
  • Using the Department’s Internet System in a manner that interferes with the education of the user or others or the job duties of the user or others;
  • Downloading, posting, reproducing or distributing music, photographs, video or other works in violation of applicable copyright laws. Any music, photographs and/or video should only be downloaded for Department, and not personal purposes. If a work specifies how that work may be used, the user should follow the expressed requirements. If users are unsure whether or not they can use a work, they should request permission from the copyright or trademark owner; or
  • Engaging in plagiarism.  Plagiarism is taking the ideas or writings of others and presenting them as if they were original to the user.
2.    Gaining or attempting to gain unauthorized access to the Department’s Internet Systems, or to any third party’s computer system, such as: 
  • Malicious tampering, phishing or hacking activities;
  • Intentionally seeking information about passwords belonging to other users;
  • Disclosing a user’s password to the Department’s Internet Systems to other individuals.  However, students may share their Department password with their parents.
  • Modifying passwords belonging to other users;
  • Attempting to log in through another person's account;
  • Attempting to gain access to material that is blocked or filtered by the Department;
  • Accessing, copying, or modifying another user’s files without authorization;
  • Disguising a user’s identity;
  • Using the password or identifier of an account that does not belong to the user; or
  • Engaging in uses that jeopardize access into others’ accounts or other computer networks.
3.    Using the Department’s Internet Systems for commercial purposes, such as:
  • Using the Department’s Internet Systems for personal financial gain;
  • Conducting for-profit business activities, personal advertising, or other non-Department business communications; 
  • Engaging in fundraising (except as set forth in the Chancellor’s Regulation A-610); or
  • Using the Department’s Internet Systems on behalf of any elected official, candidate, candidates, slate of candidates or a political organization or committee.
4.    Engaging in criminal or other unlawful activities. 


In accordance to Children’s Internet Protection Act (“CIPA”), the Department blocks or filters content over the Internet that the Department considers inappropriate for minors. This includes pornography, obscene material, and other material that may be harmful to minors.  The Department may also block or filter other content deemed to be inappropriate, lacking educational or work-related content or that pose a threat to the network.  The Department may, in its discretion, disable such filtering for certain users for bona-fide research or other lawful educational or business purposes.
Users shall not use any website, application, or methods to bypass filtering of the network or perform any other unlawful activities.
See additional information regarding CIPA 

Protection of Personally Identifiable & Confidential Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”) prohibits Department school officials from disclosing personally identifiable information (“PII”) from education records of Department students and families to third parties without parental consent.  However, several exceptions to this general rule may apply. 
All users of the Department’s Internet Systems must comply with FERPA and Chancellor’s Regulation A-820, Confidentiality and Release of Student Records; Records Retention.  If you are unsure about whether the activity will comply with FERPA or Chancellors Regulation A-820, please contact the Department’s Chief Information Security Officer. 
Internal communications with a Department attorney may also be confidential.  Accordingly, users should not forward or distribute such communications without first checking with the attorney. Users should ensure that e-mails that include or attach confidential information are only sent to the intended recipients.

Student Internet Safety

1.    Department Responsibilities:
  • The Department will provide curriculum about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms, and cyberbullying awareness and response. 
  • The Department will work to protect the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications. 
  • As appropriate, the Department will provide students, staff and parents with guidelines and instructions for student safety while using the Internet.
2.    Students Using the Department’s Internet Systems
  • Students must not reveal personal information about themselves or other persons on social networking sites, in chat rooms, in emails or other direct electronic communications, or any other forum over the Internet. For example, students must not reveal their home address, or telephone or cell phone number. Students   must not display photographs of themselves, or the images of others.
  • Students should not meet in person anyone they have met only on the Internet.

    Students must promptly disclose to their teacher or other school employee any message or other activity they receive that is inappropriate or makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Students should not allow Department computers to save their passwords.  
3.    Teachers using the Department Internet Systems, including Social Media for class activities
  • Teachers should educate students about appropriate and safe online behavior, including interacting with individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.  Teachers should refer to the Department’s Citizenship in the Digital Age guide, and other free educational Internet safety resources available on the Internet. 
  • Social Media
    • “Social media” means any form of online publication or presence that allows interactive communication, including, but not limited to, social networks, blogs, Internet websites, internet forums, and wikis.  Examples of social media include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Flickr.
    • Schools use a variety of online web-based interactive communication technologies to enhance students’ education and learning. Social media sites must be used only for educational and school related purposes, in connection with lessons and assignments and to facilitate communication with teachers and other students. 
    • The Department limits access to these sites to individuals within the Department and Department school officials.  If access to a social media site will extend beyond individuals within the Department or Department school officials, then parent consent is required.
    • Teachers must refer to the Department’s Social Media Guidelines, which are incorporated into this policy, if Internet activities will involve social media.  
4.    Parents:
  • Although students generally will be supervised when using the Department’s Internet System on school property, it is not practicable for the Department to monitor and enforce a wide range of social values in student use of the Internet. Parents are primarily responsible for transmitting their particular set of family values to their children, and discussing with their children what material is and is not acceptable for their children to access through the Department’s Internet Systems.
  • Parents are exclusively responsible for monitoring their children's use of the Internet when the Department’s Internet Systems are accessed from home or a non-school location.  The Department may or may not employ its filtering systems to screen home access to the Department’s Internet Systems. Parents should inquire with the school or Department.

Violations of this Policy

The Department, including central offices and schools, reserves the right to terminate any user’s access to Department Internet Systems - including access to Department e-mail - at any time. 
If a student violates this policy, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken consistent with the Discipline Code and applicable Chancellor’s Regulations.  If a student’s access to the Department’s Internet System is revoked, the student may not be penalized academically, and the Department will ensure that the student continues to have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the educational program. 
Employee violations of this policy will be handled by appropriate discipline.
All users must promptly disclose to their teacher, supervisor, principal or manager any information they receive that is inappropriate or makes them feel uncomfortable. 

Limitation of Liability

The Department makes no guarantees about the quality of the services provided and is not responsible for any claims, losses, damages, costs, or other obligations arising from use of the network or accounts. Any additional charges a user accrues due to the use of the Department’s network are to be borne by the user. The Department also denies any responsibility for the accuracy or quality of the information obtained through user access. Any statement, accessible on the computer network or the Internet, is understood to be the author's individual point of view and not that of the Department, its affiliates, or employees.

Copies of this Policy and Inquiries

The Department reserves the right to amend and/or revise this policy at any time as the need arises. This policy is available upon request and in soft copy.

Inquiries pertaining to this regulation should be addressed to:
NYC Department of Education
Office of Communications & Media Relations
52 Chambers Street, Room 314 
New York, NY 10007
Phone: 212-374-5141
Fax: 212-374-5584

Brooklyn Teachers Speak Out Against Gov. Cuomo's Proposed Budget

Brooklyn educators speaking out out on Governor Cuomo's budget proposal.   
Please watch, act, and share widely.  The risk to public education is too great to ignore.   

Brooklyn educators speak out
Links for action to call/write:

Governor Andrew Cuomo
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Find your state senator here:

Some local Brooklyn districts/state senators:
District 26
Daniel L. Squadron

District 25
Velmanette Montgomery

District 21
Kevin S. Parker

District 20
Jesse Hamilton

Find your state assembly member here:

State Assembly Speaker:
Carl E. Heastie

Some local districts:
District 52
Jo Ann Simon

District 44
James Brennan
Sign Brennan's petition:

District 57
Walter Mosley

Spread the word, do something every day until April 1 vote.  

The Petition Clause of the First Amendment and Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri

Facts of the Case 
In 2005, Duryea police chief Charles Guarnieri filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Pennsylvania borough, alleging that council members retaliated against him because he had successfully challenged a 2003 decision to fire him. Guarnieri had challenged his firing through arbitration and was reinstated to his position as chief in 2005. His suit alleged that council then issued 11 employment directives, which he claimed placed humiliating restrictions on him, to retaliate against him. He further alleged the borough improperly withheld overtime pay from him and had improperly delayed issuing health insurance benefits. A jury heard the case in April 2008 and awarded Guarnieri $45,358 in compensatory damages and $52,000 in punitive damages. The borough appealed, arguing the evidence did not support the verdict. In February 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the overall verdict entered by a federal jury, but it overturned the panel's award of $52,000 in punitive damages. The ruling differs from decisions by all 10 other federal circuits and four state supreme courts.
May state and local government employees sue their employers for retaliation under the First Amendment's Petition Clause when they petition the government on matters of private concern?
Decision: 9 votes for Duryea, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: First Amendment, Petition Clause
The Supreme Court vacated and remanded the lower court order in an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy. "A government employer's allegedly retaliatory actions against an employee do not give rise to liability under the Petition Clause unless the employee's petition relates to a matter of public concern," Kennedy wrote. "The Third Circuit's conclusion that the public concern test does not limit public employees' Petition Clause claims is incorrect." Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in the judgment, writing: "Even where a public employee petitions the government in its capacity as sovereign, I would balance the employee's right to petition the sovereign against the government's interest as an employer in the effective and efficient management of its internal affairs." Meanwhile, Justice Antonin Scalia dissented in part: "I find the proposition that a lawsuit is a constitutionally protected 'Petition' quite doubtful."
Full Opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy 

High Court Limits Public Employee First Amendment Retaliation Claims

June 24, 2011
In Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri, one of several important rulings issued this week, the United States Supreme Court limited retaliation claims by public employees under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment to cases in which the employee’s petition relates to matter of “public concern.”
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The last clause, known as the “Petition Clause,” has been interpreted to prohibit the government from taking adverse action against an individual merely because the individual sought access to the courts for the resolution of a legal dispute. 
In this case, plaintiff Charles Guarnieri was employed as Chief of Police of the borough of Duryea, a small town in Northern Pennsylvania. After his employment was terminated, Guarnieri filed a union grievance challenging his termination. Guarnieri’s grievance proceeded to arbitration, and the arbitrator ordered Guarnieri reinstated after a disciplinary suspension. Following his reinstatement, Guarnieri complained that the borough council retaliated against him for filing his grievance by issuing 11 directives instructing him on the performance of his duties. For example, the council instructed Guarnieri that he was not to work overtime without the council’s express permission, that his police car was to be used only for official business, and that smoking was not permitted anywhere in the municipal building, including the police department.
The Lawsuit
Guarnieri filed suit, alleging that his grievance was a “petition” protected by the First Amendment, and that the directives issued upon his reinstatement were retaliation for his protected activity. After the lawsuit was filed, the council denied a request by Guarnieri for $338 in overtime. The U.S. Department of Labor investigated and concluded that Guarnieri was entitled to payment. The council offered Guarnieri a check for the amount due, but he refused. Instead, he amended his complaint to allege that his lawsuit was a “petition” and that denial of his request for overtime was retaliation for filing the lawsuit.
Guarnieri’s case went to trial, and the jury awarded him $97,358 in compensatory and punitive damages. In addition, the trial court awarded Guarnieri $45,000 in attorneys’ fees. The borough appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the lawsuit should have been dismissed because Guarnieri’s petitions related only to his personal interests, and not to any matter of public concern. While the Court of Appeals reversed the award of punitive damages, it affirmed the remainder of the judgment, holding that “a public employee who has petitioned the government through a formal mechanism such as the filing of a lawsuit or grievance is protected under the Petition Clause from retaliation for that activity, even if the petition concerns a matter of solely private concern.” The borough appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Ruling
In evaluating the plaintiff’s Petition Clause claim, the Supreme Court noted that when an employee sues a government employer under the Speech Clause of the First Amendment, the employee must show that he or she spoke on a matter of public concern.  Even if the employee speaks on a matter of public concern, the speech is not automatically protected.  Rather, courts must balance the employee’s right to free speech against the interest of the government, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees.
Because the right of speech and the right to petition share substantial common ground, the Supreme Court held that the public concern test should also apply to Petition Clause claims.  The Court reasoned that petitions, like speech, can interfere with the efficient and effective operation of government.  A public employee might, for example, use the courts to pursue personal vendettas or harass members of the public.  Such actions could cause a breakdown in public confidence in the government and its employees.  The government must, therefore, have the authority to restrain employees who use petitions to frustrate progress.  The Supreme Court further noted that unless limits are imposed on the scope of the Petition Clause, a wide range of government operations would be subject to judicial supervision, as every government action in response to a grievance could represent a potential constitutional issue. 
Therefore, the Court ruled that a government employer’s allegedly retaliatory action against an employee because the employee brought a court action against the government employer does not give rise to liability under the Petition Clause unless (i) the employee’s petition relates to a matter of public concern and (ii) the employee’s First Amendment interest outweighs the interest of the government employer in promoting the efficiency of public services.  A petition that involves nothing more than a complaint about the employee’s own duties does not relate to a matter of public concern and is not actionable under the Petition Clause.
Because the Court of Appeals and District Court applied the incorrect legal standard, the Court vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals, and remanded the case for a determination as to how the above framework would apply to Guarnieri’s claims.
Insights for Employers
The Duryea case demonstrates that not every “petition” by a public employee will support a claim for retaliation under the Petition Clause of the First Amendment. However, this ruling does not leave employers free to retaliate against employees who file a grievance or lawsuit, as such retaliation will still often be prohibited by state or federal law. Consequently, employers should still proceed with caution and consult legal counsel when taking adverse action against any employee who has filed a formal grievance, lawsuit, or other complaint.

More Information

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