DERECHOS DE ESTUDIANTES: Estudiantes y Tecnología

Este folleto responde algunas de las preguntas más frecuentes sobre los derechos de los estudiantes en relación con tecnología y medios sociales. Esta información se aplica a los estudiantes de escuelas públicas de K-12 en Rhode Island. Las reglas para colegios y escuelas privadas serán diferentes. Adicionalmente, las reglas del distrito escolar público sobre estos temas variarán mucho, a veces habrá desacuerdos sobre lo que constituye ropa apropiada. Generalmente, se puede encontrar más información sobre estas reglas en el manual del estudiante de la escuela.

¿PUEDE MI ESCUELA MONITOREAR O CENSURAR MI ACTIVIDAD EN LINEA FUERA DE LA ESCUELA?
En general, su escuela no puede censurar cosas que usted publica durante horas fuera de la escuela mientras usa una dirección de correo electrónica personal y una computadora con una conexión al Internet privada. Eso incluye el derecho de compartir información en un blog, o por medios sociales o correo electrónico personal que critique a la escuela o a los oficiales de la escuela. Sin embargo, algunas cortes dictaminaron que los estudiantes pueden ser disciplinados por la conducta en línea fuera de la escuela si crea una interrupción "substancial y material" al ambiente escolar. Aquí en Rhode Island, por ejemplo, el Departamento de Educación dictaminó que un estudiante podría ser disciplinado por escribir una canción sexualmente explícita sobre un profesor y publicarla en línea cuando copias de la canción fueron llevadas a la escuela por otros estudiantes. Si tu mensaje demuestra que las reglas de la escuela fueron rotas, la escuela puede disciplinarte. Por ejemplo, podrías meterte en problemas si publicas un video de ti y tus amigos fumando en la propiedad de la escuela. Y si el pones un mensaje sobre hacer algo ilegal, la policía lo puede usar como evidencia contra ti.

¿PUEDO ESTAR EN PROBLEMAS POR ALGO QUE MANDO POR TEXTO, CORREO ELECTRÓNICO O ESCRIBO EN LÍNEA MIENTRAS ESTOY EN LA ESCUELA?
Como un estudiante de escuela publica, usted tiene el derecho constitucional a la libertad de expresión. Tiene derecho a expresar sus creencias y opiniones, así sean controversiales, con tal de que sea hecho de una manera que no interrumpa la clase u otras actividades relacionadas con la escuela. Sin embargo, tienen reglas especificas para el uso del internet y teléfonos celulares. Si esta usando una computadora o correo electrónico que le pertenezca a la escuela, oficiales escolares pueden monitorear su actividad. Cualquier actividad en línea usando computadoras, internet, o correo electrónico que le pertenezca a la escuela que viole alguna regla, cree un ambiente de aprendizaje perjudicial, o viole los derechos de otros podría resultar en acción disciplinaria. Ademas, la ley estatal generalmente prohíbe que los estudiantes tengan acceso a redes sociales durante la escuela, y muchas escuelas tienen reglas limitando el uso de celulares.

¿PUEDE MI ESCUELA FORZARME A CONECTARME A MI FACEBOOK, EMAIL, O OTRA CUENTA PERSONAL PARA VER MIS ACTIVIDADES?
En la mayoría de los casos, la escuela no puede obligarle a iniciar sesión en sus cuentas personales para ver su actividad. Sin embargo, si los funcionarios escolares tienen alguna sospecha razonable de que usted ha hecho algo en contra de la ley, pueden comunicarse con la policía. En esas circunstancias, la policía podría obtener una orden y trabajar con su escuela para acceder a sus cuentas personales.

¿PUEDE MI ESCUELA QUITARME MI CELULAR? SI OFICIALES ESCOLARES CONFISCAN MI CELULAR, PUEDEN REVISARLO?
Si usted violó la regla de la escuela sobre el uso del celular durante las horas escolares, su escuela puede confiscar su teléfono. Sin embargo, en la mayoría de los casos, la escuela no tiene permiso para acceder a la información personal en su teléfono incluso si la confisca. Si toman su teléfono por una razón en particular por ejemplo, otro estudiante afirma que usted le envió un mensaje de texto inapropiado durante el día escolar - se les puede permitir buscar ese mensaje en particular, pero no deben revisar información adicional en el teléfono, como su lista de contactos, fotos, etc. Si un funcionario de la escuela pide permiso para buscar en su teléfono, no tiene que dar su permiso.

¿PUEDO ESTAR EN PROBLEMAS POR “SEXTEAR”?
Es ilegal que cualquier persona menor de 18 años en Rhode Island se involucre en "sexting". Ese término se define en la ley de Rhode Island como la transmisión, a través de teléfonos celulares o dispositivos similares, de ciertas imágenes desnudas de ti mismo - específicamente, fotos gráficas de sus genitales o área púbica. Si el acto de sexting causa una interrupción en el ambiente de aprendizaje de su escuela, la escuela puede disciplinarle. La ley de Rhode Island establece que sexting constituye un delito de estatus - lo que significa que usted puede ser enviado a corte de familia para enfrentar a un juez, pero no se enfrentará a penas criminales como una sentencia de prisión. Sin embargo, debido a la forma en que se redactó la ley, técnicamente permite a los menores que participan en sexting a ser acusados de pornografía infantil en su lugar. El ACLU cree que tal cargo podría ser legalmente cuestionado.

¿CUÁLES SON LAS LEYES SOBRE EL CYBERBULLYING?
La intimidación (bullying) es un problema muy serio. Ningún estudiante tiene el derecho de decir cosas, en línea o en otro lugar, que le causen miedo razonable de daño a sí mismo, sus familiares o incluso sus pertenencias. Sin embargo, el ACLU cree que la ley estatal que rige el bullying está tan ampliamente redactada que podría ser usada injustamente para castigar el derecho de un estudiante a la libertad de expresión. Esto se debe a que la ley de Rhode Island define bullying (y el acoso cibernético) para incluir cualquier comunicación de un estudiante que, entre otras cosas, cause "daño emocional" a otro estudiante, incluso si no hubiese intención de causar daño. La ley también permite a las escuelas castigar a los estudiantes por "intimidación" que ocurre dentro y fuera de la escuela, e incluso fomenta  la intervención de la policía en muchos casos. Así que si usas la tecnología, incluyendo las redes sociales, para amenazar o difundir mentiras sobre otros estudiantes o maestros, podrías enfrentar disciplina bajo la regla de anti-bullying de tu escuela. En algunos casos, sin embargo, el castigo por el acoso cibernético puede violar sus derechos constitucionales.

Is my school allowed to monitor or censor my online activity outside of school?

Q.Is my school allowed to monitor or censor my online activity outside of school?
A.

In general, your school cannot censor things that you post during off-school hours while using a personal email address or account, and on a private computer with a private internet connection. That includes the right for you to share information on a blog or via social media or personal email that is critical of the school or school officials. However, some courts have ruled that students can be disciplined for off-campus online conduct if it creates a “substantial and material” disruption to the school environment. Here in RI, for example, the Department of Education ruled that a student could be disciplined for writing a sexually explicit song about a teacher and posting it online when copies of the song were then brought to school by other students. If your post demonstrates that you broke school rules, the school can discipline you. For example, you could get in trouble if you post a video of yourself and friends smoking on school property. On the other hand, we successfully represented a student who was disciplined for circulating a photo of a teacher unlawfully smoking on school property.

What about using my school-provided chromebook at home?

Q.What about using my school-provided chromebook at home?
A.

Many schools provide free laptops or Chromebooks for students to take home, and school officials often claim the right to have access to all the information they contain, including the sites you have visited, emails you have sent, and so on. While these computers are school property and, therefore, school officials have certain powers over how you use them, the ACLU believes that you do  not completely give up your privacy rights in using these computers, especially if they are given to students and their families for uses beyond schoolwork.

Can I get in trouble at school for something I text, email or post online while I’m there?

Q.Can I get in trouble at school for something I text, email or post online while I’m there?
A.

As a public school student, you have a constitutional right to free speech. You have the right to express your opinions and beliefs in school, even if they are controversial, as long as you do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt class or other school-related activities. However, most schools have internet usage and cell phone policies governing the school day. If you are using a school computer or email account, school officials can monitor your activity.  Any online activity using school computers, internet access, or email accounts that creates a disruptive learning environment, or violates others’ rights could result in disciplinary action. Also, some schools have rules limiting the use of cell phones during the school day, and those rules can be enforced.

Can my school force me to log in to my personal social accounts or add someone to my contacts?

Q.Can my school force me to log in to my personal social accounts or add someone to my contacts?
A.

No.  A state law enacted in 2014 prohibits any school official or employee from requesting or requiring a student to 1) divulge their personal social media account info – or 2) add someone to their social media contacts.  For example, a teacher cannot ask you to show them your private Instagram account.

Can my school’s cloud service sell my personal data?

Q.Can my school’s cloud service sell my personal data?
A.

No.  A 2014 state law limits the use of student data by cloud computing service providers used by K-12 schools. Under the law, student data is solely to be used for the purpose of providing the cloud service. The law also specifically prohibits the use or sale of student data for commercial purposes, including advertising.

Can my school take my phone? If school officials confiscate my phone, are they allowed to search it?

Q.Can my school take my phone? If school officials confiscate my phone, are they allowed to search it?
A.

If you violated school policy governing cell phone usage during school hours, then your school can probably temporarily confiscate your phone. However, the school is generally not allowed to access the personal information on your phone even if they lawfully confiscate it. If they take your phone for a particular reason – for example, another student claims you sent them an inappropriate text message during the school day – even if they may be allowed to check for that particular message, they should not be checking for additional information, such as your contact list, photos, etc.  Keep in mind that if a school official asks for permission to search your phone, you do not have to give your permission.

Can I get in trouble for “sexting”?

Q.Can I get in trouble for “sexting”?
A.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the rights of K-12 public school students in RI as they relate to technology and social media.

Rules for colleges and private schools will differ. Additionally, public school district policies on these issues can vary greatly between individual districts.  More information about these policies can generally be found in your school’s student handbook.

Is my school allowed to monitor or censor my online activity outside of school?

What about using my school-provided chromebook at home?

Can I get in trouble at school for something I text, email or post online while I’m there?

Can my school force me to log in to my personal social accounts or add someone to my contacts?

Can my school’s cloud service sell my personal data?

Can my school take my phone?  If school officials confiscate my phone, are they allowed to search it?

Can I get in trouble for “sexting”?

What are the laws regarding cyberbullying?

IS MY SCHOOL ALLOWED TO MONITOR OR CENSOR MY ONLINE ACTIVITY OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL?

In general, your school cannot censor things that you post during off-school hours while using a personal email address or account, and on a private computer with a private internet connection. That includes the right for you to share information on a blog or via social media or personal email that is critical of the school or school officials. However, some courts have ruled that students can be disciplined for off-campus online conduct if it creates a “substantial and material” disruption to the school environment. Here in RI, for example, the Department of Education ruled that a student could be disciplined for writing a sexually explicit song about a teacher and posting it online when copies of the song were then brought to school by other students. If your post demonstrates that you broke school rules, the school can discipline you. For example, you could get in trouble if you post a video of yourself and friends smoking on school property. On the other hand, we successfully represented a student who was disciplined for circulating a photo of a teacher unlawfully smoking on school property.

WHAT ABOUT USING MY SCHOOL-PROVIDED CHROMEBOOK AT HOME?

Many schools provide free laptops or Chromebooks for students to take home, and school officials often claim the right to have access to all the information they contain, including the sites you have visited, emails you have sent, and so on. While these computers are school property and, therefore, school officials have certain powers over how you use them, the ACLU believes that you do  not completely give up your privacy rights in using these computers, especially if they are given to students and their families for uses beyond schoolwork.

CAN I GET IN TROUBLE AT SCHOOL FOR SOMETHING I TEXT, EMAIL OR POST ONLINE WHILE I’M THERE?

As a public school student, you have a constitutional right to free speech. You have the right to express your opinions and beliefs in school, even if they are controversial, as long as you do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt class or other school-related activities. However, most schools have internet usage and cell phone policies governing the school day. If you are using a school computer or email account, school officials can monitor your activity.  Any online activity using school computers, internet access, or email accounts that creates a disruptive learning environment, or violates others’ rights could result in disciplinary action. Also, some schools have rules limiting the use of cell phones during the school day, and those rules can be enforced.

CAN MY SCHOOL FORCE ME TO LOG IN TO MY PERSONAL SOCIAL ACCOUNTS OR ADD SOMEONE TO MY CONTACTS?

No.  A state law enacted in 2014 prohibits any school official or employee from requesting or requiring a student to 1) divulge their personal social media account info – or 2) add someone to their social media contacts.  For example, a teacher cannot ask you to show them your private Instagram account.

CAN MY SCHOOL’S CLOUD SERVICE SELL MY PERSONAL DATA?

No.  A 2014 state law limits the use of student data by cloud computing service providers used by K-12 schools. Under the law, student data is solely to be used for the purpose of providing the cloud service. The law also specifically prohibits the use or sale of student data for commercial purposes, including advertising.

CAN MY SCHOOL TAKE MY PHONE?  IF SCHOOL OFFICIALS CONFISCATE MY PHONE, ARE THEY ALLOWED TO SEARCH IT?

If you violated school policy governing cell phone usage during school hours, then your school can probably temporarily confiscate your phone. However, the school is generally not allowed to access the personal information on your phone even if they lawfully confiscate it. If they take your phone for a particular reason – for example, another student claims you sent them an inappropriate text message during the school day – even if they may be allowed to check for that particular message, they should not be checking for additional information, such as your contact list, photos, etc.  Keep in mind that if a school official asks for permission to search your phone, you do not have to give your permission.

CAN I GET IN TROUBLE FOR “SEXTING”?

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 in Rhode Island to engage in “sexting.” That term is defined in Rhode Island law as the transmission, via cell phone or similar devices, of certain nude images of yourself – specifically, graphic photos of your genitals or pubic area. If the act of sexting causes a disruption to your school’s learning environment, the school can discipline you. RI law states that sexting constitutes a status offense – which means you can be sent to Family Court to face a judge, but you will not face criminal penalties or a prison sentence. However, because of the way the law was written, it technically allows minors who engage in sexting to be charged with child pornography instead. The ACLU believes such a charge could be legally challenged.

What are the laws regarding cyberbullying?

Q.What are the laws regarding cyberbullying?
A.

Bullying is a very serious problem. No student has the right to say things, online or elsewhere, that put you in reasonable fear of harm to yourself, your siblings or even your belongings.  However, the ACLU believes that the state law governing bullying is so broadly worded that it could unfairly be used to punish a student’s right to free speech. That is because Rhode Island law defines bullying (and cyberbullying) to include any communication by a student that, among other things, causes another student “emotional harm,” even if there was no intent to cause harm. The law also allows schools to punish students for “bullying” happening inside and outside of school, and even encourages police intervention in many cases. If you use technology, including social media, to threaten or spread lies about other students or teachers, you could face discipline under your school’s anti-bullying policy. In some instances, however, punishment for cyberbullying may violate your constitutional rights, and you can contact the ACLU of RI for guidance if you feel you were unfairly punished.