AI concerns linger in Naperville District 203 as student behavior policies refreshed  

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A pair of intertwined Naperville School District 203 board policies pertaining to student discipline have been updated for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. However, they could soon go back under the microscope to address the ever-evolving presence of artificial intelligence (AI).

At a meeting Monday, May 20, the board of education adopted revisions to Policy 7.180 Preventing Bullying, Intimidation and Harassment and Policy 7.190 Student Discipline. The board had a preliminary discussion of the policies and revisions at a meeting early this month to hash over the changes.

Board member prompts AI concerns 

Prior to adopting the policies, board member Donna Wandke asked administrators and her elected colleagues to make further considerations in response to AI, asserting it is not clearly articulated in the documents.

“I have some concerns with some articles that I’ve read, in addition to what I’m hearing from the state legislation,” Wandke said. “AI-generated deepfakes are plaguing school districts where students are using AI to create nude photos of teachers and other students and distributing those.”

Wandke, in sharing her concerns, said she does not feel the policies clearly address AI deepfake images generated since they are, inherently, not accurate depictions.

“I find, from what I’m reading and from what I’m hearing, it’s really difficult for schools to address that because they’re fake photos, and they’re not necessarily being caught by mandated reporting, they’re not necessarily being caught by or falling into cyberbullying because they’re not real,” Wandke said. “It’s kind of becoming an item that is slipping through the cracks and being difficult to discipline.”

Moving forward, but with possible future revisions

At the urging of administrators, the full board voted unanimously in favor of the policy revisions as presented, with the understanding future revisions could be presented at an upcoming meeting.

“We’re comfortable with it right now, as it is,” District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges said. “But I respect your concern.”

Chala Holland, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said there is verbiage within the policies that loosely speaks against the practice of deepfake images.

“I do want to note that there is currently language in our student behavior policy that directly connects with the creation of those images,” Holland said. “It may not be specific enough, but it is something to consider.”

The desire for a deeper, clearer definition of deepfakes and AI-generated content could result in future revisions to the policies. Bridges said both documents would be going back before the board after July 1, at a minimum to make technical changes to reflect administrative-level staffing changes as the new school year kicks in.

What’s in the amended policies 

Earlier this spring, an advisory committee comprised of teachers, students, parents and caregivers and others hashed over the policies and offered up changed recommendations to the board of education.

In explaining the process, Bridges said, “Annually, we review these two policies, as well as others that we’re still working on. We take input from the panel on the advisory group with recommended changes and run it through legal counsel and their alignment with PRESS.”

PRESS is the Illinois Association of School Boards’ program for districts across the state. It stands for Policy Reference Education Subscription Service.

While student conduct and discipline remains at the heart of both policies, new language has been introduced, including restorative practices that are designed to assist students grappling with mental health and behavioral issues before punitive measures are taken.

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