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Carlisle Area School District

Pictured is the entryway to Carlisle High School.

Carlisle Area School Board may consider a policy revision that would prohibit the use of drones on school property without prior approval by the superintendent or designee.

The revision, which amends the policy on trespassing, could come up for a board vote at the next regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. April 18 in the large group instruction room of the Fowler building of Carlisle High School.

Superintendent Christina Spielbauer learned that video footage from a drone overflight of the high school campus was posted recently on YouTube, said Bruce Clash, chairman of the board’s policy and personnel committee that reviewed the revision Thursday.

He said the growing popularity of drones has raised concerns about their use after school, when school is in session and during school events. To discourage their use, there has to be language in the policy manual to give the administration direction, Clash said.

The policy as written would only apply to an unauthorized person controlling a drone on school property. School officials could contact local law enforcement or ask that person to leave school property.

Clash was asked Thursday whether the policy change could be enforced on a person controlling a drone off school property that flies over a school campus. “Your scenario is a very real one,” said Clash who was not sure what other recourse the district may have. “You raise a good point. It’s worth exploring.

“A lot of the drones only have a limited range from the control point,” Clash said. “To get to the middle of a campus or over a building, you almost have to be on school grounds to do it.”

On March 14, 2018, about 200 Carlisle High School students participated in the national student walkout to mourn for the victims of gun violence in Parkland, Florida, and to advocate for gun control. Photos of the Carlisle High School walkout were taken via a drone.

The school district contacted police who located the drone controller and asked the person to stop their overflight of the campus, Assistant Superintendent Colleen Friend said Thursday. The person was compliant.

She said the proposed revision to the trespassing policy is a step in a process. “Other school districts have five-page board policies on drones,” Friend said. “We are not there yet.”

Friend specifically mentioned the West Shore School District whose board adopted a policy on drones last Oct. 18. In the introduction, the West Shore school board recognized that the use of drones in business, industry and recreation is becoming more prevalent.

“In the educational context, benefits for students can be realized across different disciplines, such as photography, videography, scientific study and engineering,” the policy reads. “The district further recognizes, however, that the use of these sUASs [Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems] presents safety and legal liability concerns that must be addressed.”

The West Shore policy has specific guidelines for the outdoor and indoor use of drones by district employees, students and the public. Under “Outdoor Use of sUASs by the Public,” the language reads that all applicable Federal Aviation Administration regulations must be followed and that local, state and federal privacy and harassment laws may apply.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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Education/History Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.