Privacy policy updated for the 2015-16 school year

Introduction

Our site, we hope, enables and encourages dynamic, three-way communication between schools, students, and members of our communities, including parents. This site is owned and operated by the Voxitatis Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation in Maryland.

The details of our privacy policy, last updated on July 31, 2015, can be found on this page.

Voxitatis is committed to protecting you and your family’s personal information when you are using our website. Our websites consist of (primary domains) schoolsnapshots.org, voxlearn.org, learnvox.org, maryland-k12.org, learnengage.org, and maryland-k12.net. We want our services to be safe and enjoyable environments for you. This privacy policy concerns our use of any personal information that you provide to us through or that we obtain from any source and made available via our website.

In order to provide you with the full range of services, we sometimes collect information about you. Voxitatis is committed to safeguarding your personal information. Whenever you provide such information, we are legally obliged to use your information in line with all laws concerning the protection of personal information (these laws are referred to collectively in this privacy policy as the “data laws”).

Please note that our website contains hyperlinks to sites owned and operated by third parties. These third-party websites often have their own privacy policies, and we urge you to review them. They will govern the use of personal information that you submit or that is collected by cookies while visiting these websites. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the privacy practices of such third-party websites, and your use of such websites is at your own risk.

Information we collect about you

Whenever you access a page on our website, we collect the following information about you and store it in an access log on our server:

  • The IP address from which you access the Internet (an IP address is a number that can identify a specific computer or other network device on the Internet)
  • The date and time you access our site
  • The URL of the web site from which you linked directly to our site
  • Your operating system and browser, along with any add-one, including Java

We use the information to measure the traffic to various sections of the website, which, in turn, helps us make our site more useful. The browser information is used to develop and code pages so most people will be able to view the site correctly. We use analysis software to look at IP addresses so we can enhance your user experience. We may note, for example, that many people are accessing a certain page from India, and we may decide to provide more coverage of interest to people there in the future. This information is not used to develop a personal profile of you, and the log files are regularly deleted after our analysis is complete.

We never link IP addresses to anything personally identifiable, including email addresses. This means, for instance, that a user’s browsing from one page on our website to another will be tracked, but the user will remain anonymous. We have IP addresses for everyone that uses our website.

When you sign up to participate in or receive a service from us, such as posting a comment, score, photo, or multimedia lesson plan, or when you mail us something, we may ask for personal information about you. This can consist of information such as your first name, your birthday, your location, your email address, and your connection to the schools.

YOU ARE UNDER ABSOLUTELY NO OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE HONEST ANSWERS TO OUR REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION OR TO PROVIDE ANY ANSWERS AT ALL. However, in some cases, you will be unable to upload content to our server without providing a valid email address.

By entering your details in the fields requested, you enable us to provide you with the services you select and to customize your experience on our website. We do NOT post this information, except for the “first name” or “screen name” you provide on any web pages or in any printed matter. Please note: We do NOT publish the last names of students unless their names are already a matter of the published, public record, such as athletes on teams competing in interscholastic sports.

For some services, especially those on learnvox.org, Voxitatis uses cookies. These cookies store your unique user ID within our database. The cookies only last for a short time, typically about an hour but possibly as long as two weeks, and are linked to personal information that only our servers can read and interpret.

How we use the information

Voxitatis will use your personal information for a number of purposes, possibly including contacting you about a submission you have made to one or more of our websites, including any content you provide.

We also analyze our services in order to improve them to provide you with the most user-friendly navigation experience.

When we contact you

Voxitatis may contact you in relation to the functioning of any service you have signed up for in order to ensure that we can deliver the services to you. THIS INCLUDES SENDING AN EMAIL MESSAGE TO THE EMAIL ADDRESS YOU PROVIDED. We may also contact you in relation to any contribution you have made or to invite you to participate (voluntarily) in surveys.

We will never use the information you provide to contact you for marketing purposes, although we do send out marketing and outreach material by email and by direct mail.

We may occasionally contact you in order to follow up on information you have provided to us in the context of a news story, whether or not the story was about you.

Sharing your personal info

We will never share your personal information with anyone else, except where required and permitted by law. For example, we must comply with law enforcement agencies who make a legitimate request for this information. We never sell your personal information; nor do we provide it to anyone who has not presented a valid subpoena for the information, except as provided on this page.

We do NOT post this information in any public places except in the following one circumstance:

  • On the learnvox.org site, known as Answer Maryland, teachers and “parents” (adult users identified as “trusted”) can see the “real name” entered by students as long as that student has identified the teacher (by email address) as one of his or her trusted teachers or “parents.” Your name appears on homework assignments when your teachers or trusted adults are viewing it but nowhere else, including when someone else may be viewing what you have written. Not even your screen name appears for strangers.

Offensive or inappropriate content

If you post or send offensive, inappropriate, or objectionable content anywhere on our websites, or otherwise engage in any disruptive behavior, Voxitatis may use your personal information to stop such behavior.

Where we reasonably believe that you are or may be in violation of any applicable laws (e.g., because content you have posted may be defamatory), Voxitatis may use your personal information to inform relevant third parties such as your employer, school email/Internet provider, or law enforcement agencies about the content and your behavior.

For users 17 and under

If you are under 13, you are not allowed to provide personal information on any Voxitatis website. Teachers of young children, who may sign up for services, especially on the learnvox.org site, should be aware that names provided by students for building class rosters will not be the real names of their students, and arrangements should be made for informing teachers of the made-up screen names used by their students who are 12 or younger.

If you are aged 17 or under, please get your parent/guardian’s permission beforehand whenever you provide personal information to a Voxitatis website. Users without this consent are not allowed to provide us with personal information.

How long we keep your personal information

We will hold your personal information on our systems for as long as is necessary for the relevant service.

Where you contribute, Voxitatis will generally only keep your content for as long as is reasonably required for the purpose(s) for which it was submitted. Some projects, though, are likely to have a longer, or even permanent, duration.

WE RECORD SNAPSHOTS OF SCHOOL HISTORY ON THE WEBSITE, which may include some user-generated content, i.e. content provided by users. It may also include names of minor students, but Voxitatis will NEVER be the first publisher of student names. It is strictly against our policy in news stories to use student names unless those names are already on a published, public record available to members of the general public. In any case, Voxitatis will never identify a student in a photograph.

COPPA Compliance. Except as noted below for learnvox.org, Voxitatis does not knowingly collect or store any personal information about children under the age of 13.

The learnvox.org site is a forum for parents, teachers, and students that is freely available, and users may register for assistance on this forum. Students 13 and older are invited to join with their first names only or with a fake screen name in order to post comments and questions in accordance with our terms and conditions of service. An email address must be provided in order to post comments on our site, it is not shared or sold to third parties, and it does not appear publicly on our website.

Some content submitted to or shared with Voxitatis may be retained for prolonged periods of time or potentially indefinitely in our Archive, which is true of news contributions and school data that are published. There may also be rare instances where we will share your contribution with third parties in the interests of maintaining historical archives. Where possible, we will try to inform you upfront or let you know at a later date where we are likely to keep content indefinitely or pass it onto an approved historical archive. However, names of students, e.g. the quarterback of the football team or the stars of a school musical, will not be available on our websites (except in the text of any News stories) after the school year has ended.

Disclosure of personal information

Under the data laws, you have the right to request a copy of the personal information Voxitatis holds about you and to have any inaccuracies corrected. We may charge a fee for such information requests and will require you to prove your identity with two pieces of approved photographic identification. We will use reasonable efforts to supply, correct, or delete personal information about you on our files.

Please address requests and questions about this or any other question about this Privacy Policy to Paul Katula, 10121 Daventry Drive, Cockeysville, MD 21030 (email: paul@schoolsnapshots.org).

Changes to the privacy policy

This privacy policy may be updated from time to time, so you may wish to check it each time you submit personal information to any Voxitatis website. The date of the most recent revision is July 31, 2015.

Voxitatis cookie policy

A cookie is a small amount of data, which usually includes a unique identifier, that is sent to your computer or mobile phone browser from a website’s computer and is stored on your device’s hard drive. Each website can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a website to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites. Many sites do this whenever a user visits their website in order to track online traffic flows.

Check the “Help” menu of your browser to learn how to change your cookie preferences.

The Answer Maryland system at learnvox.org will not function properly unless your browser accepts cookies. Voxitatis stores, in a single cookie with a duration of one hour, your user ID (a six-digit number). We store this information in a cookie to make it possible for you not to keep logging in every time you look at a different page.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.