The standard process by which districts seek to manage student and staff use of the Internet is through the development of an Internet use policy (also called an acceptable use policy). These policies become part of the district's student disciplinary code. Violation of the policy is treated in a similar manner to other disciplinary actions.
Policies that govern student and employee behavior raise a number of constitutional concerns. Just as students "do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate" Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503, 506 (1969), it must be recognized that students also do not shed their constitutional rights on the school district's on-ramp to the information superhighway. District employees also retain constitutional rights, as well as other rights that are protected by state law and collective bargaining agreements.
An Internet use policy must be viewed as more than just one step in a disciplinary process. The Internet offers a great deal of freedom and with this freedom comes the need for self-restraint and personal responsibility. To function effectively in the Information Age, students must gain a sufficient level of self-control to behave in a morally and ethically manner, even when they have the freedom to do otherwise. The Internet use policy provides the foundation for gaining these critically important skills and values. It should be considered the first step in the development of a character education program to address ethical and moral behavior in an emerging new environment.
The author of these planning materials has prepared an extensive legal analysis of Internet use policy issues and policy templates. These materials are currently available at URL: ces.uoregon.edu/responsibleuse.