ADE Director's Communication Memo Form


Memo Number : DIR-00-021

Date Created : 11/19/1999

Attention:

Superintendents
Co-op Directors
Secondary Principals
Elementary Principals
Middle School Principals
other: APSCN Coordinators

Type of Memo: Informational
Response Required: No
   
Section:   Central Administration - Mr. Raymond Simon
Subject:
Internet Filtering Evaluation

Regulatory Authority:

Contact Person:
Melanie Bayne, DIS

Phone Number:
501-682-4304

E-mail:
Melanie.Bayne@mail.state.ar.us

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BEING PROVIDED AT THE REQUEST OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS.

INTERNET FILTERING EVALUATION

The purpose of this memo is to explain the facts concerning an on-going evaluation of an Internet Filtering System called N2H2 (Bess). These facts are intended to help answer questions and concerns about the purpose and possible long-term use of such a system. The final decision of how or whether to use a filtering system will be made at the local school district level.

Melanie Bayne (Department of Information Systems, Office of Information Technology) and Drew Mashburn (Department of Education) will bring a group of interested stakeholders together to discuss policy implications, and to help local school districts develop their own policies concerning Internet filtering. If you would like to be included in this group, please contact Melanie Bayne: melanie.bayne@mail.state.ar.us.

BACKGROUND: The Arkansas Department of Information Systems (DIS) has been alerted to the possible legislative requirements and /or local School Board desires to have certain objectionable material filtered from the school Internet access. For example, there is pending Internet filtering legislation being debated in Congress, which would require the filtering of material having violent or pornographic content. Therefore, DIS has begun a system evaluation to prepare to meet the technology requirements that would be necessary for statewide implementation of such Internet filtering. Several other states have also begun this evaluation.

STATUS OF THE EVALUATION: The evaluation of the Internet Filtering System N2H2 (Bess) was begun on November 8, 1999 and is to run until January 1, 2000. A notice that the filtering was to begin was provided to Arkansas schools during the month of September 1999. Currently, Bess is filtering only a small selection of categories based on the experience and best practices of N2H2 implementations in other states and school districts.

It is technically possible to obtain an override password in order to reach filtered sites, if one is required. Since this is an evaluation period, DIS has not yet decided upon staffing for the project, so this must be kept to a minimum. If you care to request an override, the district superintendent must make a request to Wendy Brocato at Wendy.Brocato@mail.state.ar.us.

E-RATE IMPLICATIONS: Filtering is not required for E-Rate at this time. The filtering project began when it looked as if it would be the case by now, but legislation mandating filtering did not pass. It is possible, however, that E-Rate funding could become contingent upon content filtering at some point in the future.

SCHOOL DISTRICT CHOICES: Each school district will make the final decision on using Internet filtering. School districts may decide to opt out of the filtering at any time, including the evaluation period, by having the superintendent write to Wendy.Brocato@mail.state.ar.us. We hope that schools will choose to retain filtering during this N2H2 service evaluation in order to be better able to fully consider the issue and its long-term implications.
Thank you for your cooperation. A web page will be posted on the DIS site by the week of November 22 that should answer more of your questions. Until then, please submit your questions in writing to melanie.bayne@mail.state.ar.us.


Melanie Bayne, DIS-OIT




Attachments:
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