Policy Details Page

Regulation No. 6973

1. Overview

Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) provides students and staff a broad range of innovative technology to foster communications, collaboration, and learning, inside the classroom and beyond.

Effective technology security measures are a team effort involving the participation and support of every Tacoma Public School employee, student, and affiliate accessing information and information systems. It is the responsibility of all users to know these guidelines and to conduct their activities accordingly. Please review District Policy No. 5230 (Job Responsibilities), Policy 2010 (Employee Conduct Rules), and the Student Code of Conduct for further details.

2. Purpose

Technology Services is committed to protecting Tacoma Public Schools employees, partners, students, and the district from illegal or damaging actions by individuals, either knowingly or unknowingly.

The purpose of this regulation is to outline the acceptable use of technology within Tacoma
Public Schools. These rules are in place to protect all users as well as the district. Inappropriate use of technology may expose Tacoma Public Schools to risks including, but not limited to: virus attacks, compromise of network systems and services, data breach, loss of student and staff privacy, and legal issues.

3. Scope

This regulation applies to the use of information, computing devices, software, data, wired and wireless network resources, cloud-based applications, student information systems, and social media usage within the Tacoma Public Schools. This equipment includes all internal networks and business systems, whether owned or leased by Tacoma Public Schools. Responsible and acceptable usage is required whether the user resides inside our network or uses district resources and equipment remotely.

This regulation applies to all information resources, whether individually controlled, shared, stand-alone, cloud-based, or networked. The use of these systems directly supports the educational and business purposes in serving the interests of the district operations.

All employees, students, contractors, consultants, and third-party users at Tacoma Public Schools and its subsidiaries are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding the appropriate use of technology resources. All use must be per Tacoma Public Schools policies, regulations, procedures, and standards to include laws and regulations.

Exceptions to this regulation are documented in section 5.2.

4. General Use and Ownership

Employees are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding the use of district equipment and networks. District-owned property should be used to conduct district business. Users are permitted to use district technology during personal time as long as the use is not prohibited by district policy, regulation, or procedure.

Student use of the district's technology resources must comply with the district's Student Code of Conduct, policies, regulations, and school rules applicable to students. These guidelines include prohibitions concerning harassment, intimidation, and bullying, as provided in Policy No. 3207 and its associated regulation, 3207R.

5. No Expectation of Privacy

The district provides the network system, email, and internet access as a tool for education,
business support, and research to fulfill the district's mission.

The district reserves the right to monitor, inspect, copy, review, and store, without prior notice, information about the content and usage of:

  • The district network, including when accessed on students' personal electronic devices and devices provided by the district, such as laptops, netbooks, and tablets;
  • User files and disk space utilization; 
  • User applications and bandwidth utilization;
  • User document files, folders, and electronic communications;
  • Email; Internet access; and
  • All information transmitted or received in connection with the network and email use.

Staff, students, or other users should not expect privacy when using the district's network.

The district reserves the right to disclose any electronic messages to law enforcement officials or third-parties as appropriate. All documents are subject to the public records disclosure laws of the State of Washington.

6. Security and Proprietary Information

Devices connected to the district's internal production network (this does not apply to the guest network) are required to meet the district Hardware Standards.

System-level and user-level passwords must follow the district Password Procedure.

Providing account access or sharing your account credentials with another individual, either deliberately or through neglect, is prohibited.

Compliance with the personal security procedures contained in the district regulation 6300R,
Data Security, Appendix K: User-Level Data Security Procedures is mandatory.

TPS provides content filtering controls for students accessing the internal network, but at times inappropriate, objectionable, or offensive material may circumvent the filter and be viewed by students. Students are to report the occurrence to their teacher or the nearest adult staff member immediately, who will then notify the Technology Services Information Security department.

Any attempts to bypass the district Internet filtering system by staff or students through the use of hardware or software tools are prohibited.

Tacoma Public Schools may appoint authorized individuals within the district to monitor equipment, systems, and network traffic at any time to ensure compliance with this regulation.

Asset monitoring may include device usage while connected to district and out-of-district networks.

The district may monitor and review the information to analyze the use of systems, compliance with policies, conduct audits, review performance, or obtain information for reporting. Asset tracking and remote support tools are not to be used by district staff to track users outside of our network physically, and any such usage is strictly prohibited.

The district will maintain and provide a guest network to allow internet access for personal
digital devices when possible. Personal digital devices, such as laptops, notebook computers, tablets, and smartphones, are permitted to connect to the district networks via the TPS guest wireless network.

Connecting to the guest network is a "best-effort" and is subject to strict filtering.

The district will not support or troubleshoot technical or software issues on personal digital devices. Exceptions may be granted based on prior approved business needs.

Users shall not encrypt communications and digital data unless required for business-related purposes and approved in advance by the Superintendent or designee. When encryption is requested and approved, the Technology Services Department will dictate what encryption protocol to use and will provide the encryption keys.

Tacoma Public Schools' proprietary information stored on electronic and computing devices or in the cloud remains the sole property of Tacoma Public Schools.

The district maintains an archived copy of all district email correspondence for public disclosure (FOIA, Freedom of Information Act) and disaster recovery. Staff and student files are regularly backed up, barring power outage or intermittent technical issues on district servers. Refer to the district retention policy 6570, Records Management and Retention for specific records retention requirements.

Users must protect proprietary information, through legal or technological means, per the district regulation 6300R, Data Security.

Users have a responsibility to promptly report the theft, loss, or unauthorized disclosure of
Tacoma Public Schools proprietary information to their administrator.

Authorized use of Tacoma Public Schools proprietary information is approved to fulfill assigned job duties or educational requirements.

7. Unacceptable Use

Tacoma Public Schools employees and students are prohibited from engaging in any activity that would be considered unethical under local, state, federal, or international law while utilizing Tacoma Public Schools-owned resources.

The list below is by no means exhaustive but attempts to provide a framework for activities that fall into the category of unacceptable use.

The following activities are strictly prohibited, with no exceptions:

  • Violations of the rights of any person or company protected by copyright, trade secret, patent or other intellectual property, or similar laws or regulations, including, but not limited to, the installation or distribution of "pirated" or other software products that are not appropriately licensed for use by Tacoma Public Schools.
  • Sharing or broadcasting copyrighted material using a subscription-based service such as Netflix without obtaining permission to do so.
  • Unauthorized copying of copyrighted material including, but not limited to, digitization and distribution of photographs from magazines, books, or other copyrighted sources, copyrighted music, and the installation of any copyrighted software for which Tacoma Public Schools or the end-user does not have an active license is strictly prohibited.
  • Accessing data, a server, or an account for any purpose other than conducting Tacoma Public Schools business, even if you have authorized access, is prohibited.
  • Exporting software, technical information, encryption software or technology, in violation of international or regional export control laws, is illegal. Consult the appropriate management or Technology Services before exporting any questionable material.
  • Introduction of malicious programs into the network or server (e.g., viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, etc.).
  • Revealing your account password to others or allowing the use of your account by others. Unauthorized users include family and other individuals when working remotely.
  • Using a Tacoma Public Schools computing asset to actively engage in procuring or transmitting material that is in violation of sexual harassment or hostile workplace policies.
  • Making fraudulent offers of products, items, or services originating from any Tacoma Public Schools account. 
  • Making statements about warranty, expressly or implied, unless it is a part of regular job duties.
  • Effecting security breaches or disruptions of network communication. Security breaches include, but are not limited to, accessing data of which the user is not an intended recipient or logging into a server or account that the user is not expressly authorized to access unless these duties are within the scope of regular duties. For purposes of this section, "disruption" includes, but is not limited to, network sniffing, ping floods, packet spoofing, denial of service, and forged routing information for malicious purposes.
  • Port scanning or security scanning is expressly prohibited without advanced permission from Technology Services.
  • Spoofing device naming conventions or MAC addresses to access the network or resources using an unauthorized device or to conceal one's identity.
  • Executing any form of network monitoring or packet sniffing, which will intercept data not intended for the user's host, unless this activity is a part of the user's standard job/duty.
  • Circumventing user authentication or security of any host, network, or account.
  • Introducing honeypots, honeynets, or similar technology on the Tacoma Public Schools network.
  • Interfering with or denying service to any user other than the user's host (for example, denial of service attack).
  • Using any program/script/command, or sending messages of any kind, with the intent to interfere with or disable a user's terminal session via any means locally or via the Internet/Intranet/Extranet.
  • Using any applications or web services to bypass the district web filter or firewall.
  • Providing information about, or lists of, Tacoma Public Schools employees to parties outside Tacoma Public Schools.
  • Users are prohibited from physically attaching personal devices to the district network.

8. Online Communication

When using district resources to access and use the internet, users represent the district. When employees state an affiliation to the district, they must also clearly indicate that "the opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the District." Address questions to the Chief Information Officer, Technology Services Department.

The following activities are strictly prohibited, with no exceptions:

  • Sending unsolicited email messages, including the sending of "junk mail" or other advertising material to individuals who did not specifically request such content (email spam). 
  • Postings by employees from a Tacoma Public Schools email address to newsgroups should contain a disclaimer stating that the opinions expressed are strictly their own and not necessarily those of Tacoma Public Schools unless posting is related to business duties.
  • Any form of harassment via email, telephone, video, or audio methods, whether through language, frequency, content, or size of messages.
  • The unauthorized use, or forging, of email header information.
  • Solicitation of email for any other email address other than that of the poster's account, with the intent to harass or collect replies.
  • Creating or forwarding "chain letters," "Ponzi," or other "pyramid" schemes of any type.
  • Use of unsolicited email originating from within Tacoma Public Schools networks of other Internet/Intranet/Extranet service providers on behalf of, or to advertise, any service hosted by Tacoma Public Schools or connected via Tacoma Public Schools network.
  • Posting the same or similar non-business-related messages to large numbers of newsgroups (newsgroup spam).
  • Using district technology resources for personal or private gain, individual business, or commercial advantage is prohibited.
  • Using district assets, logos, or resources to engage in private crowdsourcing activities.
  • District employees acting as private individuals shall not represent themselves as agents of the district.
  • Using district technology resources for political purposes in violation of federal, state, or local laws is prohibited. This prohibition includes using district technology resources to assist or to advocate, directly or indirectly, for or against a ballot proposition or the election of any person to any office. The use of district technology resources for the expression of personal political opinions to elected officials is prohibited. Only staff authorized by the Superintendent may express the district's position on pending legislation or other policy matters.
  • Using district technology resources for illegal, harassing, vandalizing, inappropriate or indecent purposes (including accessing, storing, or viewing pornographic, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate material) or in support of such activities is prohibited. Illegal activities include violations of federal, state, or local laws (for example, copyright infringement, publishing defamatory information, or committing fraud). Harassment includes slurs, comments, jokes, innuendoes, unwelcome compliments, cartoons, pranks, or verbal conduct relating to an individual.

These actions are considered harassment when they:

  • have the purpose or effect or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; 
  • have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or school performance or
  • interfere with school operations. Indecent activities include violations of generally accepted social standards for the use of publicly owned and operated equipment. This rule applies to all methods of message delivery, including email, text, voice calls, voicemails, Teams chats, video, or online forums.

9. Social Media

District employees must comply with TPS Regulation 6973.1R Use of Social Media and Electronic Communication.

10. Physical Care for District Resources

When using district technology, users should act responsibly and respectfully.

  • Users are to follow any district instructions regarding maintenance or care of the equipment. Users may be held accountable for any damage caused by intentional or negligent acts while caring for district technology resources under their control.
  • The district is responsible for any routine maintenance, standard repairs, and upgrades to district equipment. Users should notify the Customer Service Center of specific service needs.
  • Users should notify their administrator immediately if a district laptop is lost, damaged, or stolen. Submit a District Theft/Damage/Loss form as quickly as possible to the Purchasing Department. When the loss occurs off district property, users may file a claim under personal insurance coverage or pay out-of-pocket for loss as determined by the Purchasing Department or Risk Manager. The district will cover out-of-pocket expenses except in cases of negligent or intentional loss or damage.
  • Users must immediately report any loss or theft of data or equipment that contains confidential data as required in the Data Security Regulation - 6300R.
  • Non-district employees such as vendors, PTA members, volunteers, and guest speakers must fill out the Digital Resources for Non-District Employee form before using district technology. The school or department administrator shall review the Acceptable Use Policy for Technology Resources and associated regulations with all outside individuals before using district technology resources. Forward a copy of the completed form to the Technology Services Department.

11. Software

Users are not to delete or add software to district computing equipment other than programs
offered through the district Software Center. Users can request an evaluation of new software through the Technology Toolbox portal. The Compliance Committee will review, approve, or deny requests on an ongoing basis.

It is against TPS practice for staff or students to copy or reproduce any licensed software on TPS computing equipment, except as expressly permitted by the specific software license. Using unauthorized software is a serious matter, and any such use is without the consent of Tacoma Public Schools.

12. Remote Access
The district provides remote access to cloud-based Microsoft 365 applications and Employee Self Service (ESS)/HR systems.

Users must register for multi-factor authentication to access ESS and Microsoft 365 remotely.

Users may access the district's cloud-based applications over a standard internet connection by using either a district laptop or a privately-owned device.

Staff should never use public or unsecured wireless connections to access Microsoft 365 or Employee Self Service applications. Unsecured network traffic could compromise the safekeeping of information related to district students or staff.

Users who plan to travel outside the United States must request additional access to their Microsoft 365 and ESS accounts from the Technology Services department at least two days before departure.

At times, conditions may require users to work from a remote location. These users may request remote access capabilities through the Director, Infrastructure and Cloud Services per the district's Remote Access procedure.

13. Use of Web Tools

Online communication is critical to business collaboration and students' learning of 21st Century skills through Washington State Learning Standards. Tools found in the Microsoft 365 suite offer an authentic, real-world vehicle for student expression and distance learning.
Student safety is a primary responsibility of the district as part of the Strategic Plan and Whole Child education. Therefore, staff must use Microsoft Teams, student email, email chat features, or other Web interactive tools that follow all established district policies and procedures.

14. Accessibility of Electronic Resources

Federal law prohibits people based on disability (such as seeing and hearing impairments), from being excluded from participation in, being denied the benefits of or otherwise be subjected to discrimination by the district. To ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to district programs, activities, and services the content and functionality of websites associated with the district should be accessible. Such websites may include but are not limited to, the district's homepage, teacher websites, district-operated social media pages, and online class lectures.

District staff with the authority to create, modify, or control functionality associated with the
district website will take reasonable measures to ensure that such content or functionality is
accessible to individuals with disabilities. Any such staff member with questions about how to comply with this requirement should consult with the Public Information Office.

15. Policy Compliance

The Technology Services Department will verify compliance with this regulation through
various methods.

Exceptions to the regulation must be approved by the Chief Information Officer, Technology
Services Department in advance.

Disciplinary action for students, staff, and other users shall be consistent with the district's
standard policies and practices. Violations may constitute cause for revocation of access
privileges, suspension of access to district technology resources, other disciplinary action, or appropriate legal action. Specific disciplinary measures are determined on a case-by-case basis.

16. Related Standards, Policies, and Processes

  • Data Security Regulation
  • Password Procedure
  • Remote Access procedure

Cross References:

  • Policy 2025 Copyright Compliance Regulation
  • 2025R Copyright Compliance Policy
  • 3200 Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy
  • 5210 Employee Conduct Rules
  • 5230 Job Responsibilities Policy
  • 5251 Conflict of Interest Policy
  • 6210 Purchasing Regulation
  • 6250.1 Use of District-Owned Material and Equipment Regulation
  • 6250.2 Use of District Telephones Regulation
  • 6250.3 Wireless Communications 
  • Regulation No. 6973

Legal References:

  • RCW 28A.600.010 Government of schools, pupils, employees, rules and regulations for--Due process guarantees Enforcement

Adopted: 1/3/2012
Revised: 5/15/2015, 5/19/2020

  • 6973
  • digital resources
  • policy
  • regulation
  • technology