Devices and apps that allow parents to check in on their students while in class will be banned from Denison schools this school year.

The Denison Independent School District school board voted unanimously to adopt a measure banning the devices.

“Devices with listen-in and student tracking capabilities are becoming more common among students and parents,” Denison ISD Assistant Superintendent David Kirkbride said. “The use of listen-in devices without authorization presents a concern for student privacy and confidentiality. Proposed revisions to local policy FNCE addresses the use of student-tracking and listen-in devices by students and parents.”

Kirkbride recommended the measure be adopted on the basis of student privacy concerns. Kirkbride had previously stated that the district already had a policy preventing students from recording conversations in class. This new policy will apply to apps parents use to listen in through their own child’s device.

Kirkbride said the policy would allow for parents to request for authorization. The administration would determine if the situation was justified depending on the circumstances, for example students with special needs.

Kirkbride said the topic came up when an unrelated conversation with the district’s attorney prompted him to consider updating the policy. He said he spoke with the district’s TASB consultant who advised making updates to the policy to avoid any confidentiality conflicts.

“Having a device in a classroom setting that is recording what all is going on presents privacy issues,” Kirkbride said. “You can have a conversation between a student and a teacher and if a device is in the vicinity and it captures that conversation that could be a clear violation of privacy and confidentiality.”

The topic came up at the July 30 meeting where it was tabled to allow board members more time to investigate the policy.

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