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Pocahontas BOE to Decide on Faculty Use of Personal Devices

Ruth Bland, in her position as Director of Technology, addressed the Pocahontas County Board of Education at their January 7th meeting about the use of the school WIFI network by the faculty members’ personal phones and devices. She pointed out that the West Virginia Department of Education holds that there is a need to limit the number of personal devices on school networks especially because of the recent virus damage at the Woods County Schools.

Bland said that she also understands the safety concerns that faculty members have brought to the Board’s attention about how much safer the discrete the use of text messaging is during an emergency situation rather than using a loudspeaker announcement about suspicious persons or conditions they see in the school. The loudspeaker could alert intruders or panic students. She said she would like to find a policy way to balance the safety and virus concerns.

Bland said that any policy revisions would have to require that each personal device would have to have a unique MAC address on the network; there would have to be a device manager program that could see who is on the network at any given time, and each device owner would have to give their a device a name which includes the device owner’s name. Bland said she also shares PSHS Vice-Principal Tritapoe’s concerns that misuse of social media over the school network would be hard to enforce and could have a bad impact on the schools. Additionally, Bland is concerned about enforcement of the policy since she has only two people on her staff to monitor all the schools.

Board President, Joe Walker said that any such policy allowing this would have to address his three main concerns:

  • WIFI personal telephone calls using the school network
  • Teachers using personal devices during instructional time
  • And teachers using personal devices while they are responsible for supervising students.

Bland agreed and said that a policy must prohibit use during instructional time, must prohibit conducting personal business on the school network and reiterate that even a hint of pornography on a personal device which is connected to the school network is a criminal offense. The policy would also have to establish disciplinary consequences for violations and these must be enforced. Bland also said that if there is a revised policy, she would ask that it not be effective until next school year so the faculty can be educated about it.

Mr. Beam said he would put the issue on the next Board Meeting agenda for the Board to make a decision one way of the other on this.

Mr. Beam also recognized Hayden Mick for one of the highest scores achieved on the Math ACT test, missing a perfect score by only one point.

Student Representative Sierra Rodriguez, at her first board meeting expressed several safety concerns at PCHS and her concerns about a lack of college guidance help being offered at the school.

The Board also approved the following:

  • The sale of the modular home at PCHS to the highest bidder for $40,000.
  • A bid from Mark Buzzard Construction to finish the repairs at the old school cafeteria at Hillsboro elementary School.
  • A Youth and Government trip by students from both of the middle schools to Charleston from February 3rd through the 5th.

They voted down a motion to allow the Greenbrier Youth Reporting Center to use the facilities at PCHS. They had a number of questions and concerns about this which were not addressed by the Center’s personnel.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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