Pr. George's School Copyright Propsal Draws Criticism

Proposed policy would make all student schoolwork Board property

Thanks to a new proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education, first-graders could suddenly lose the right to their fridge-worthy work.

According to The Washington Post, a recent proposal by the Board would give them ownership of everything teachers and students create for their schools. It is part of a larger policy presented to the district that tackles “use and creation” guidelines for the classroom.

Board members told the Post that the policy was introduced when questions were raised over county schools’ expanded use of technology. Because much of the technology students and staff work on is school-owned, the policy gives the district rights to that work.

Lawyer David Rein is one of many education activists who are concerned about the proposal, which says that work done by employees on their own time and using their own materials is the school system's property. “The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that,’ ” he told the Post. “I can’t imagine that.”

In light of those concerns, Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs (District 5) told the Post that the policy can be amended at the board’s next meeting. She added that the board did not intend to “declare ownership” of students’ work.

If the proposal goes forward as is, it would make Prince George’s the only county in the greater Washington area with such a policy.

For a school board to claim ownership of a student’s work, there would need to be an agreement in place between the student and the school board, according to American University Law professor Peter Jaszi. The current version of the proposal, he told the Post, is “sufficiently extreme.”

"It's like they are exploiting the kids."

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