Navigating the SCOPE Act: A Guide for Texas School Districts

The Securing Children Online Through Parental Empowerment (SCOPE) Act, also known as Texas House Bill No. 1812, represents a significant change in how public-school children…

The Securing Children Online Through Parental Empowerment (SCOPE) Act, also known as Texas House Bill No. 1812, represents a significant change in how public-school children in Texas are protected online. In this article, we’ll cover what SCOPE means for Texas School districts, key takeaways to be aware of, and how Impero can help districts across Texas prepare for this new legislation.


Understanding the SCOPE Act

The SCOPE Act aims to protect public school children from harmful, deceptive, or unfair trade practices in connection with the use of certain digital services. It provides enhanced online privacy protections, places a duty on digital service providers to limit access to harmful online content, and provides parents with additional rights and tools.


Key Takeaways School Districts Need to Know

While the entire bill won’t go into effect until September 1, 2024, Texas school districts need to be aware of the responsibilities they need to adhere to that went into effect when the legislation was signed. Impero’s product line can help to empower school districts and assist with compliance on these key obligations.


1. Minimize data collection and age level adjustments: School districts must minimize data collection conducted on students through electronic devices and software applications, and necessary adjustments to the use of electronic devices in the classroom by age level must be considered.

ContentKeeper offers highly customizable configurations that allow district administrators to choose how policies are applied and the data collected for reporting based on student characteristics like grade level. Behavioral profiles can be customized and applied by Grade Level, School, or other grouping that report on specific keywords and network activity.


2. Parental consent: Direct and informed parental consent is required for a student’s use of a software application, with two qualified exceptions.

Districts need to ensure that parental consent is listed in the policies communicated to parents and reiterated in acceptable use policies delivered to students.


3. Prevent unrelated assessments: Schools must ensure software applications do not conduct mental health assessments or other assessments unrelated to educational curricula that are intended to collect information about students without direct and informed parental consent.

Impero’s product suite does not support unauthorized assessments. Furthermore, our filtering capabilities allow districts to restrict access to assessments that aren’t approved.


4. Parental resources: Parents must be provided with resources necessary to understand cybersecurity risks and online safety regarding their child’s use of electronic devices.

Texas school districts need to ensure they are working with their student’s parents. ContentKeeper allows for individual reporting that can be shared with parents on request, and Parent Portal, a new feature now in early release, gives parents direct access to student network activities.


5. Specify deactivation periods: Schools must specify periods of time during which an electronic device transferred to a student must be deactivated in the interest of student safety.

With customized ContentKeeper filters, districts can shut down all Internet access for specific time periods regardless of device location. On school premises, or when they are taken home.


6. Social media access: Appropriate restrictions on student access to social media websites or applications must be considered.

Age-appropriate filtering allows districts to block social media sites for some students while allowing it for others if it is determined that a resource has educational value. As an example, ContentKeeper provides granular YouTube controls that allow blocking the site completely for some groups, tightly restricted access for others, and less restrictions for appropriates grade levels as needed to support teaching and learning.


7. Require use of Internet filter: Schools are required to use an Internet filter capable of notifying appropriate school administrators, who are then required to notify the student’s parent, if a student accesses inappropriate or concerning content or words, including content related to self-harm, suicide, violence to others, or drugs.

ContentKeeper meets all the required needs listed above for an Internet filter.


8. Determine more secure alternatives: Before using a social media application for an educational purpose, schools must determine if an alternative application is more secure and provides the same educational functionality.


Preparing for the SCOPE Act


To prepare for the SCOPE Act, Texas school districts can consider taking these steps to ensure that they are moving in a direction towards compliance with their obligations under this new legislation.

  • Review current practices: Take a close look at the digital services you currently use and how they collect and use student data. Ensure you have parental consent where needed.
  • Communicate with parents: Keep parents informed about the changes brought about by the SCOPE Act. Provide resources to help them understand their new rights and how to use the tools available to them.
  • Work with Digital Service Providers: Collaborate with your digital service providers to ensure they follow the SCOPE Act. This may involve updating agreements or implementing new safety features.


Impero is currently providing industry leading software and services to school districts across Texas and can help your district get up to speed and comply with your responsibilities related to the SCOPE Act. Contact us today to learn more about how Impero helps protect students and empowers schools.


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