AUP Policy Review: Los Angeles Unified School District

Acceptable Use Policy

AUP Policy Review: Los Angeles Unified School District

With continuously evolving technologies, it is important for organizations to set up standards that helps mitigate potential liability in regards to staff potentially of using or misusing such technologies. It is obvious that an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a very important policy within modern organizations in order to define what acceptable employee behavior when accessing company resources is. AUP’s help provide staff the technological resources that they need, while setting clear limits as to what is off-limits. For the purpose of this evaluation, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s AUP in regards to its school computers and networking systems will be analyzed and critiqued in order to provide recommendations for future changes.

Organizations that include technology devices within their operations need to have AUP’s second-place to make sure that such devices are not abused or misused in a way that would make the organization liable for misconduct. There is no other environment where this becomes more important than the context of our nation’s schools. There is a huge drive to improve the technology used within classrooms and school facilities; yet, at the same time there are issues with how such technologies might be a liability for school districts if misused by either staff or students. For the purpose of this analysis, the AUP policy in regards to computer and network facilities will be examined within the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is one of the largest districts in the country. Essentially, the policy states that “teachers, administrators, and other school personnel should ensure district data systems are used in a responsible, efficient, ethical, and legal manner, and that such use be in support of the districts business and education objectives” (Los Angeles Unified School District, 2012, p 1). The AUP helps provide confidentiality, integrity, and availability within the organization. The primary objective of this AUP is to provide teaching and administrative staff with the innovative and technological tools needed to make the classrooms the most effective, well at the same time limiting potential risk by setting out the clear limitations in use of such technologies. Staff members can only use computers on the clock if it is part of their lesson planning or execution. Yet, they’re allowed use the computer facilities on their off periods for limited private use. Separate AUP standards help keep kids working on their schoolwork, instead of being distracted by third-party websites, or even potentially risking the entire network through their online activity. Students are restricted to the use of computers only for activities that augment their learning experience. Both students and staff are restricted from breaking any state or federal laws, including the transmitting of pornography or any other scene material through school-based computers, along with any other crimes that carry punishment under the laws. Additionally, the selling or purchasing of illegal items where the unauthorized use of others’ e-mail addresses is also forbidden. Using school computers for any sort of financial benefit or gain is also prohibited in LAUSD’s AUP policy.

However, even in the most recent adaptations to the AUP policy made in 2012, there still some missing elements to the policy that would help strengthen and increase its overall success in minimizing misuse of school networks and computers. The AUP policy was adopted in May of 2012, yet oddly enough this adaptation did not include anything regarding social media. Social networking and social media has become the latest trend, with both staff and students most likely participating in one way or another. However, the AUP does not directly define how social media can and should be used on school property. According to King (2012), “social media has many benefits: social media postings violate the law or district policies or create a substantial disruption to the school community and/or work environment, the administrator may have an obligation to respond and take appropriate action, including but not limited to investigation and possible discipline” (p 1). The way that LAUSD has set up handling social media is in a way that is not cohesive with AUP. In fact, social media is not explicitly stated within the AUP standards. This creates a situation where there is a lot of gray area, creating a possible situation where social media can be misused. Clearly, there is room for improvement in regards to this. By putting explicit restrictions on social media use within AUP, the LAUSD organization can reduce the gray area that has been left open. Thus, it is ambiguous in terms of when it is acceptable for students and staff to use social media on school computers. This would more explicitly state the acceptable usage of social media within a school environment, more importantly blatantly define and spell out the consequences for misuse of such technologies. It is crucial for LAUSD to define the acceptable usage of social media before it becomes too late and there is a situation dealing with legal consequences if on the misuse of social media, either by student or by staff. Moreover, the LAUSD can implement stronger methods to help ensure compliance with the AUP, mitigate their risk exposure, and minimize liability. This can include more clear definitions of potential punishments for breaking the AUP policy, both in regards to students and staff behaviors. Student’s parents should immediately be contacted when there is a breach, which should be outlined in all AUP policies that students have to sign before using computer facilities on campus. In regards to staff, there needs to be more clearly defined punishments for when the staff breaks the AUP policy for personal or for more nefarious purposes. A hierarchy of potential punishments and consequences should be directly outlined on the paperwork in which staff members have to sign before using such facilities. Criminal misuse should always be at the highest rating of punishments, including immediate dismissal of anyone found committing a crime on school computers.

Currently, LAUSD only send out the initial form for which students and staff is to sign as a way to raise awareness of the AUP policies in regards to school computers. This is effective because each staff and student must read the full document and then sign off saying that they understand policy and procedures. However, this may not be enough to truly disseminate the information of the policy and the acceptable use that is to be encouraged. Staff members are especially vulnerable to potentially misunderstanding usage policies, and when they accidentally misuse policies the consequences may be much greater than in the case of a student. As such, it is important for LAUSD to implement more effective procedures and disseminating information about AUP policy. One way to really help spread awareness of the AUP is through open training sessions (Mitchell, 2011). Continuous training exercises once or twice throughout the school year will help solidify knowledge of the AUP by the staff, and also help them become a stronger enforcer to ensure that students are following the AUP as well.


King, Michelle. (2012). Social media policy for employers and associated persons. Los Angeles Unified School District Policy Bulletin. Web.

Mitchell, Bradley. (2011). How to create and AUP: Acceptable Use Policy. Computing: Wireless Networking. Web.

Los Angeles Unified School District. (2012). Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for district computer and network systems. Los Angeles Unified School District Policy Bulletin. Web.

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