Students can face expulsion for attempting iPad override, HCCSC board hears

Once all school-issued iPads are reprogrammed to keep students from accessing content considered inappropriate, students can face expulsion for repeated attempts to override those restrictions, members of the Huntington County Community School Board learned during their meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

The iPads - issued to all high school and middle school students at the start of this school year - have generated complaints from parents that their children were using the devices to gain access to Internet content they deemed inappropriate.

The solution, explained Chuck Grable, the corporation's assistant superintendent for instruction, has been to reset software to allow only "safe searches" and restrict access to social media and games. That process is almost complete at Riverview Middle School and is expected to begin on Monday, Dec. 3, at Crestview Middle School, he said.

It is possible for students to change their profiles to defeat those safeguards, Grable said, but school administrators can detect those changes. Students who have made unauthorized changes to their iPads have until the end of December to turn the devices in to be reconfigured without facing a penalty.

After the first of the year, Grable said, students who attempt to defeat the safeguards will be disciplined with in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, limits on iPad use and - on the fourth offense - expulsion.

Parents can access iPad instructions, policies and video tutorials by following the "21st Century Learning Initiative" link on the school corporation's home page, www.hccsc.k12.in.us.

Grable also noted that the corporation plans to buy new iPad cases, at a cost of $19 each, that offer greater protection for the devices. About 200 broken iPads are currently awaiting repair, he said.

Protection and repair of the iPads could represent an opportunity for Huntington North High School students, said board President Kevin Patrick.

Patrick suggested that HNHS students be trained to repair the devices, offering their services not only to HCCSC schools but also to schools in other corporations, which would pay for the repairs. Designing and manufacturing the protective cases could also offer an opportunity for technology education students, Patrick said.

In other business, the board delayed a decision on increasing pay for substitute teachers after Superintendent Tracey Shafer expressed concerns about the effect of the increase on the corporation's budget.
Board member Rex Baxter had proposed increasing the pay, currently at $70 a day, to $75 for non-licensed substitutes and $100 for licensed teachers serving as substitutes.

Shafer said the average pay for substitutes in area school corporations is about $75 a day, adding that increasing pay for local substitutes to $75 a day probably wouldn't strain the budget. A rate of $100, though, would "put a significant strain in 2013 on those financial resources," he said.

The board agreed to delay a vote on the proposal until more information can be received.