School district will install filters on student iPads

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Union School District is working on installing filters on student iPads by next week that will restrict access to inappropriate sites when the students take their devices home, Superintendent Tim Baird said this week.

Baird’s announcement comes a week after several parents criticized the district for failing to have filtering devices on the 5,400 iPads that would keep the students from accessing and downloading inappropriate content on the devices.

“We want to make sure we provide a safe environment for students,” Baird said. “We are listening to our parents, we are taking it seriously and are working on a solution.”

When students have the iPads at school, the district’s network has a strong filtering system that prohibits students from visiting inappropriate sites.

The issue has been when those devices are taken home, where parents said that without a filter, students have been able to visit pornographic sites or other inappropriate sites and download such content.

Five parents spoke at last week’s special meeting, imploring the district to take decisive action and expand the school’s network to include off-site iPads.

This way, students accessing their computers at home will have the same safeguards as they do at school.

Baird said that it wasn’t unusual in not providing filters at home sites for the iPads, and that parents were given instructions on how to set up similar filters on their home networks. He acknowledged, however, that parents found that option unsatisfactory.

“We get it that it is hard to set up those filters,” he said.

The school district’s one-to-one digital learning program started in 2010 and was funded through the $44 million voter-approved bond Proposition P. In 2012, the district launched a pilot program for 3rd and 6th grade students, and has since expanded the program to all students in the K-6 district, at a cost of $2.7 million.

District officials have lauded the program for successfully increasing student engagement.

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