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Rock Hill schools to delay mobile device policy

Rock Hill schools officials are postponing a plan to let students use their own mobile devices on assignments in class until they’re sure the district’s network can handle it.

The district’s supply of iPads, iPods, Netbooks and PCs isn’t large enough for every student to use one, so Superintendent Lynn Moody’s staff drafted a policy that would allow students to bring their own smart phones, tablet devices and laptops.

That was before officials learned that it’s better to be sure the network can manage a rush of new users, Associate Superintendent Luanne Kokolis said.

“We just thought we were moving a little too fast,” she said.

Their new plan is to test mobile device management programs across the district with the devices that are currently in use, then report the results to the school board in June.

Some teachers and students already are working with mobile devices, and others are eager to start.

Middle schools allow students who work hard and behave well all week to bring a device to school on Fridays to use during free time.

Impulse Point, a Florida-based company specializing in network management and security, is letting Rock Hill schools test its Safe Connect program for free, Kokolis said.

By letting students bring their own technology, schools open their doors to a variety of devices from Kindles and iPads to various smart phones and laptops with different operating software, said Joel Whitesides, Rock Hill schools technology director.

Without a management program, students could unwittingly expose the district to viruses and malware, Whitesides told school board members at a meeting on Monday.

“We need to be able to control those devices that are accessing our network,” he said.

Officials expect the policy could be ready for a school board vote over the summer. If approved, students could start bringing their own technology next school year.