Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Technology Update: Got Apps? (12/16/15)

Do you use apps in your classrooms with your students? Are your students older than 13? Did you get parental consent? Not all apps are the same and neither are the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for each app.

The Student Online Personal Information Privacy Act, or SOPIPA, (SB 1177) was passed to place additional requirements on companies to protect student online privacy. Specifically, companies are prohibited from the following:
  • engaging in targeted advertising to students or their parents/legal guardian,
  • using information to amass a profile about a K-12 student,
  • selling a student’s information, or
  • disclosing covered (personally identifiable information or materials) information unless certain circumstances exist such as legal compliance, judicial process, or security and safety.

In addition, the company, or “operator”, is required to:
  • to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices appropriate to the nature of the covered information,
  • to protect the information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure, and
  • to delete a student’s covered information if the school or district requests deletion of data under the control of the school or district.

The provisions of SOPIPA take effect in January 2016. As a result of SOPIPA, everyone needs to be aware of the apps, services, websites, and software we are using with students, how student information is being used by the companies, and what is in the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Although companies are required to adhere to SOPIPA in order to use their products in K-12 schools, not all of them have. Because of this, all apps currently being used in classrooms in Washington USD must go through a vetting process to insure that we are only using those services from providers that are in compliance with SOPIPA.

Apps will fall within these categories based upon the stated privacy policy and terms of service for each app:

  • Approved
  • Conditionally approved with parental consent
  • Conditionally approved with directory information release
  • Approved only for students over the age of 13
  • Not approved

What does this mean to you and your classroom?

When using apps, web-based services, and other online sites and applications, please evaluate the tool to determine not only if it’s instructionally appropriate but if it meets privacy requirements, particularly if it is an online service. Any time data is collected, it is important to review the privacy policy and terms of use/service to determine what data is collected and how that data is used.

  1. Review the list of vetted software, services, and sites. Are any of the tools you want to use on the list? If they are approved or approved for students over the age of 13, then proceed with using them! We are working on a Google Play Store that will allow you to push out the apps to your students’ Chrome environment (coming in January 2016).
  2. If any of them are conditionally approved with parental consent, please use the WUSD Technology Parental Consent Template (automatic download and customizable in Word) to send a letter home and obtain consent from parents.
  3. If any of them are conditionally approved with directory information release, check with your school secretary to verify that the student has permission for directory information release.
  4. If the tools you want are not on the list, submit them for review (note: this link is not publicly shared - you must log into Google with your district email to submit). We will review the app following a process that looks at these categories and then determine which list it will be added to if approved.
  5. If a tool you want to use is not approved OR you don't get approval from all parents and are wondering what to do next, send an e-mail to,, or and we will work with you to find a suitable alternative so you can continue to use technology.
  6. Discuss with your principal the best process to use at your site to manage parental consent forms for tools that are conditionally approved.
If you have questions, we are here to assist. Happy Holidays and have a wonderful Winter Break!


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