Internet safety is a necessity, says district

Senior Marrione Roe is searching for information about Hurricane Katrina for her AP Government research project. She finds that most of the websites she could be using for her project are blocked off by the district.

“When I go to the Homework Center and try to search something for a research project on the Internet, it won’t let me use all the websites I need and not everyone has Internet at home,” Roe said.

Students like Roe get frustrated when they find that a website they need is blocked off by the district.

“It’s frustrating because we use it for academic reasons and it still doesn’t always work,” she said.

It may give students without web access at home a harder time — but there are many good reasons why those websites are blocked, district officials say.

Websites that may have “anything that is obscene or harmful to students will be blocked,” said SUSD Chief Technology Officer Robert Torres.

“Everything from a policy standpoint, that is of inappropriate matter on the internet or anything that has to do with safety and security of minors is to be blocked,” Torres said.

“Some types of a websites that will be blocked are e-mails, chat rooms, and other forms of electronic communication,” he said. “As well as pornographic material and hacking.”

Some students do agree with the blocked sites. Junior Aylin Murillo is one of the them.

“I think it’s a good thing that they block the websites,” Murillo said. “It’s for our safety and it keeps us on task.”

Students tend to think the blocked websites are specifically chosen by one person.

The blocked internet sites are not picked by an individual, they go through a system that determines whether they are blocked or not. The Child Internet Protection App is the system used to filter the sites.

CIPA are the regulations to be followed by the district because of the Erate program in which the Stockton Unified School District takes part in. Erate helps us fund our internet, which enables students to have web access at school.

“It’s really helpful to have internet access at school since not all of us have it at home,” Murillo said.

In order to get the Federal Communications Commission to provide the school internet connection, the district must follow CIPA regulations.

“The FCC is the government agency that allows us to participate in Erate and Erate is the program that subsidizes our Internet connection,” Torres said.

Even though the Internet has restrictions, teachers have access to an a email where they can send a filter review request for a website that could be useful for students.

After the request is sent in, “it will be reviewed in case there is anything inappropriate on the website,” Torres said.

If nothing inappropriate is found on the site, it will be unblocked and open for student usage.

“It’s cool that if we find a blocked website we need we can tell a teacher about it and they can get it unblocked for us,” Murillo said. “It’s always better to have the websites pre-blocked and then unblocked if needed rather than having them open the whole time.’”