#Edchat Followup: Legal Issues For BYOD And 1:1 Programs In Schools

by Franczek Radelet P.C.

https://jdsupra-html-images.s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/aba60b7f-131e-4a05-a808-245ba7434580-iStock_KIDS_TABLET.XSmall-300x198.jpgEach Tuesday the #Edchat hashtag brings together educators from across the globe to discuss education-related topics on Twitter. (For those wondering “What is #Edchat,” one of the founders describes the movement here.) Last week one of the questions on #Edchat was “How do we train educators to teach in programs like BYOD and 1:1?” The chat was timely because the Internet is abuzz with questions about whether BYOD programs and 1:1 programs have a place in the classroom. BYOD programs are programs through which schools tell students “bring your own devices” to the classroom for pedagogical use, and 1:1 programs are programs through which schools equip each student with a school-owned electronic device for school-related use.

As the transcript shows, there was a lively conversation with hundreds of Tweets discussing the benefits of BYOD and 1:1 programs. For instance, participants pointed out that BYOD and 1:1 programs allow technology to be more seamlessly integrated into the classroom in ways the traditional computer lab never allows. Participants also noted that use of technology in the classroom can help turn students from “tech comfy” to “tech savvy.” (The idea is described more here.)

The participants also pointed out some of the risks of BYOD and 1:1 programs. As one participant put it, “Moving forward with 1:1 without preparing teachers properly creates school culture and pedagogical problems.” But there are also important legal risks, and school districts should not move forward with BYOD or 1:1 programs without preparing educators to understand those risks, as well. I pointed this out in a few Tweets, and was asked by some participants to provide some resources about those legal risks.

Although there can always be another legal issue lurking around the corner, here are some of the legal risks about which educators must be aware before moving forward with BYOD and 1:1 programs.

  • Student Fees. Most BYOD and 1:1 programs require students and their parents to expend funds. For BYOD programs, students and parents must buy a device. For 1:1 programs, there is usually a deposit and/or insurance payment required. Careful attention should be paid to whether these programs can be implemented equitably for students who do not have the means to participate.
  • Student Records. Certain materials created by or about students are “student records” under state and federal student records laws, including the Federal Educational Rights and  Privacy Act (FERPA). State law may require retention of such records for a specified period of time. It is unclear whether materials created by students on electronic devices in classes are such student records, but this issue should be addressed under relevant law before a BYOD or 1:1 program is implemented to prevent challenges from parents wishing to review materials created electronically in class.
  • Inappropriate Content. If a student accesses the Internet on a traditional computer owned and operated by the school, there are filters required by federal law that prevent the student’s from accessing inappropriate content such as pornography. But what if a student accesses his own device during class thorugh his wireless signal? Best practice is probably to require students to only access their BOYD devices through the school Wi-Fi account to avoid the risk of students viewing inappropriate material at that time. Although some have taken issue with such restrictive policies, I am not persuaded that allowing students to access devices on their own, unfiltered wireless signals creates less legal risk. Moreover, teachers may need to take a more active role with more traditional forms of supervision when students are using BYOD and 1:1 devices to prevent against use for inappropriate means. This might include walking around the classroom to check what students are viewing.
  • Intellectual Property. If a teacher creates a course lesson using a BYOD or 1:1 device, or students and the teacher create content on the device, who owns the copyright of the materials? This issue should be addressed clearly in school board policy, and teachers should be aware of who owns content they and their students create in class before implementing a BYOD or 1:1 program.
  • Bullying/Cyberbullying and Sexting. Once a student is using an electronic device in the classroom, he or she may veer off course and use the device to bully or cyberbully or send sexually explicit content to other students. Educators must have a plan for how to determine whether such activity is occurring, which may include electronic or more traditional forms of supervision of student activities on the devices. It is also advisable to tell students that when they are using even a BYOD device in the classroom, their First Amendment rights are limited. And the same limitations can be applied when a student is using a 1:1 device anywhere or at anytime. Setting these limitations and notifying students of them will allow for discipline of conduct that occurs on the devices without successful First Amendment challenges by students and parents.
  • Educator Ethics/Teacher Boundary Issues. Technology breaks down barriers between students and teachers, which can be a good thing. But it can also be a bad thing if the lines between professional educator and friend are blurred. If a teacher is using his or her own personal electronic device to communicate with students inside the classroom, there is a greater risk of him or her doing so outside of the classroom. Special care should be taken to ensure that educators are properly trained on educator ethics and teacher/student boundary issues before a BYOD or 1:1 program is implemented. Rules should also address when and how teachers can communicate with students through technology to avoid inadvisable contact outside of school hours.
  • Privacy Considerations. Does a student or teacher give up his or her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures simply because the student or teacher is using a BYOD or 1:1 device at school? Can a school randomly search all of the BYOD or 1:1 devices at any time without individualized suspicion of wrongdoing by the user? If the school knows of misconduct of one type (e.g., bullying) on a BYOD or 1:1 device can a student be punished if a search shows evidence of another type of misconduct (e.g., drug sale)? Teachers and administrators need to be armed with knowledge of how the Fourth Amendment applies in this context before moving forward with a BYOD or 1:1 program.
  • Are Your Policies Keeping Up? Most school board policies were drafted in the days before the technology revolution. School districts need to take a close look at whether policies on non-tech issues are keeping up with the EdTech revolution, addressing all of the points above as well as many others before implementing a BYOD or 1:1 program.

As these topics make clear, the legal world of BYOD and 1:1 is still murky. Educators should pay just as close attention to creating a legally sound BYOD or 1:1 program as they do to creating a pedagogically sound program. This does not mean that a program cannot be successfully implemented – it can! But it is important to consult with the school board attorney to make sure policies are adequate, educators are prepared through professional development on legal issues, and students are aware of their rights and limitations before implementing BYOD and 1:1 programs in schools.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Franczek Radelet P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Franczek Radelet P.C.

Franczek Radelet P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.