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D300 considering new ‘sexting’ policy

Updated: November 1, 2011 12:37AM



ALGONQUIN — Community Unit School District 300 is proposing several policy changes, including specific wording about “sexting.”

That change to District 300’s restrictions on publications would prohibit students from “creating, distributing and/or assessing” (sic) material that is “socially inappropriate or inappropriate due to maturity level of students.” That would include material that is obscene, pornographic or contains vulgar language, as well as sexting, according to a draft posted on the district’s website.

The proposed policy change follows a law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in July 2010 that made it a misdemeanor for anyone under 17 to send photos of nudity or other sexual conduct of himself or herself or another minor. It’s based on recommended changes recently sent to school districts by the Illinois Association of School Boards, according to District 300 Safety Officer Gary Chester.

“Over the past three years, we’ve had not many — I’d say a handful — of situations” involving sexting, Chester told the school board Monday night.

One situation involved a boy who thought he had texted a photo of himself to his girlfriend — but accidentally sent it instead to the girl’s mother, the safety officer said.

Most instances are reported by parents who intercept the images and want their children’s school to intervene, Chester said. But unless those situations occur on campus, he said, “There’s nothing we can do.”

Past situations in which the district has gotten involved typically have resulted in suspensions, he said. They could be punished by expulsion if repeated, he added, but that’s never happened.

Chester said students just aren’t aware of the consequences sexting can have.

A 2009 study by the Associated Press and MTV found nearly one-third of people age 14 to 24 have been involved in some type of sexting. Of those, nearly one in five reported passing along pictures they have received to others.

“As soon as the relationship sours, they’ll show it to another kid, and before you know it, those pictures are floating around,” Chester said.

In addition to the proposed policy change, the safety officer said all District 300 middle and high schools will speak to students about the consequences of sexting in the 2011-12 school year. That’s part of the district’s anti-bullying curriculum, which was piloted at several schools last year and will be rolled out at all schools in the coming school year, he said.

The school board will vote on the policy at its next meeting on Monday, Aug. 8, board President Anne Miller said.

The board also is considering changes to policies that, among other things, would require substitute teachers to hold a valid teaching or substitute certificate and present the district with a certificate from the regional superintendent of schools showing they are authorized to substitute.

“Most all of these are just simple language changes,” Miller said.

District 300 spokeswoman Allison Strupeck added that nearly all policy changes the district makes are based on IASB recommendations.

To read all the proposed policy changes, view Monday’s board meeting packet at d300.org/document/26899.



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