June 25, 2014
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The Board of Education has approved the purchase of Smoothwall, a significant upgrade from the district's current Internet content filter. The new filter will be in place prior to the start of school.


Technology Director Mike Wood noted that his recommendation for Smoothwall came after researching a range of products geared to the education market. "Smoothwall is a more advanced way of detecting objectionable content," he said. "Our current product is based on categorizing the URLs in its database," and is not as effective given how aggressively as the Internet is growing. Smoothwall also applies a content-aware logarithm to each page within a site so that it can block individual pages within a site, an important feature given the dynamic nature of Internet content. It has superior reporting features as well, and will send alerts, notifications and daily reports of attempted access to blocked or inappropriate web sites to the Technology Department and building principals. Smoothwall is widely used across the globe, as well as by a number of nearby districts, including those in Glenview, West Chicago, Flossmoor and others.


Smoothwall will operate on devices that go through the district network but cannot block material that is already stored on personal devices, or which is accessed through an individual's 3G or 4G network. Mr. Wood noted that the Chromebooks that will be rolled out at Hadley in the fall will operate through the district network, even if the devices were to be used at home.  


Smoothwall offers a money-back guarantee, and Mr. Wood noted that the technology team will be monitoring the new product heavily to ensure it is the right fit for the district.


In related matters, Mr. Wood addressed the approach known as white listing, in which the Internet is locked down, and then only certain pre-approved sites are unblocked. While the district subscribes to and encourages teachers to use a number of curated site collections geared for student research, a white list approach would significantly restrict resources available for teachers to use with students, said Mr. Wood, noting that he has found few if any public schools in DuPage County using a white-list approach.


Use of personal devices at school has been another area of focus. Superintendent Dr. Paul Gordon said that the district provides sufficient technology for learning and stated clearly that students should not be using personal devices at school. The Board of Education Policy Committee will be reviewing district policy on personal devices; Dr. Gordon noted that he will solicit parent input on the issue of students bringing devices to school, even if the devices are turned off and put away. While some parents feel strongly that devices should be kept at home, others view it as a safety issue and want to be able to contact their child at school. "I do not believe it is a black and white question," he said. 



Michelle Gallo joins District 41 as the Director of Student Services effective July 1. She replaces Jennifer Law, who has left the district for another position. Ms. Gallo began her career in education in District U-46 as a special education teacher at the elementary and middle levels where she worked with resource level students, in a self-contained setting for students with social/emotional disorders, and co-taught with general education teachers. In 2004, she became an assistant principal at Prairie Oak Elementary School in Berwyn and then an assistant principal at Jane Addams Junior High School in Schaumburg. She has spent the last seven years in West Aurora School District 129 as a building principal, as the Assistant Director of Special Education, and most recently as the Director of Special Education. 


Ms. Gallo earned her undergraduate degree from Illinois State University with a Bachelor's of Science in Special Education and her master's degree from Aurora University in Educational Leadership.  


 "We are very fortunate to hire someone with her talent and skills," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Gordon, noting that the selection was made from a strong field of applicants, and followed a robust process involving staff and parents in developing a leadership profile and participating in the interviews.   

Please direct your questions or comments to District 41 Director of Communications and Grants Julie Worthen at jworthen@d41.org. We ask that you do not reply directly to this email because such replies cannot be answered. Thank you!