DCPS allows parents to surveil child’s mobile device activity with new app

DCPS will adopt ApParent system on district-provided electronic devices

News 4 Jax | By Joe McLean | May 9, 2023

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In an effort to bolster internet safety and technological security, Duval County Public School leaders discussed the adoption of a new application that will provide parents more access to their student’s activity on any district-provided electronic device.

In a Tuesday morning workshop, DCPS board members heard a presentation from representatives of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office with internet safety advice for families, including apps designed to conceal content on a device, cyberbullying, sexting and other topics.

DCPS Chief Information Officer Jim Culbert then introduced board members to the “ApParent” app, a system designed to allow parents the ability to automatically screen record their child’s laptop or mobile device or set an automatic, timed screen-lock function to restrict when the device is used. It also allows parents to shut the device off remotely.

According to Culbert, the goal is to install the ApParent app on all district devices to be used by students. The district already has strong content filters on all its devices, but the ApParent app will allow parents to place even more robust content restrictions.

The information technology department did not require board approval to adopt the ApParent app, which Culbert said was launched Tuesday for devices in secondary schools.

Culbert also provided board members with an update on the impending replacement of the “ClassDojo” app, which had been the main platform on which teachers would communicate with parents. Culbert said he’ll be submitting a proposal to the board that the district adopt the “Bloomz” app.

Bloomz will perform all the same messaging and scheduling functions as ClassDojo, while also providing new features including the translation of communication into parents’ native language and the curation of 7 years of data archiving.

The Pikmykid app will also be proposed to the board to be integrated into elementary schools. It’s a platform designed to manage all communication and scheduling for dismissals, pick-ups and drop-offs.

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