What's it like to work with F3?
With F3, it’s always about your mission and how you want to achieve it. It’s about students – how they learn and the opportunities you provide for them every day. We’re known as the education law firm with a deep understanding of how schools work, and a commitment to always seeking new ways to help. This applies as much to the often bewildering world of technology in schools as it does to every other aspect of our service to educators.
What can F3 solve for you?
Today’s schools are at the center of the technological revolution, and you should expect a law firm focused on education to be your trusted advisor on how technology is used in schools and by the students you serve. F3 attorneys know well the many benefits the tech world has to offer educators, as well as the minefields and unprecedented challenges you face. Trust our experience and understanding of all things “ed-tech” to make your job easier in this ever-changing universe.
F3 Law can provide valuable legal guidance and expertise to school districts, helping them navigate the complex regulatory landscape and safeguard students, while promoting innovation in education.– Gretchen Shipley, Partner
Technology is firmly embedded in all areas of education and the lives of our students. From computers in the classroom to students’ social media activities and online interactions with each other, schools are at the center of the digital world in which students live. In many cases, technology moves faster than the law, sometimes making schools the testing grounds for legal and ethical issues regarding how technology is used in schools and by students. F3 has emerged as an acknowledged leader in public education’s digital revolution. Our technology practice can be divided into two overall categories. One consists of the many types of contract formation, e.g., procurement, cybersecurity and data privacy agreements, master service agreements, and more. The other covers how technology is actually integrated into the broad life of schools for educators and students, independent of the products that schools are integrating. This component includes, for example, assisting school districts with policies on social media, codes of conduct, responsible use of technology, emerging technologies, and acceptable cyberspeech.
As the first education law firm to have a separate educational technology department – now one of the largest in the country – we are on the leading edge nationally in exploring the legal dimensions of how schools interact with current and evolving technologies, including the social media universe. For example, our team developed a first-of-its-kind model data privacy agreement that is now in use by 38 states and is considered the national agreement for data privacy. We have worked with Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Google to modify their data privacy agreements to be more user-friendly for educational institutions, offering data protections with school districts in mind. In addition, our attorneys have provided legal counsel to California IT in Education (CITE), the state’s premier organization for education technology professionals. CITE relies on us for informed advice in this fast-moving and often controversial area of education. We have assisted CITE in forming the largest consortium of software services in the country. We also partner with the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the Future for Privacy Forum (FPF), a leading national non-profit organization that supports principled data practices in emerging technologies.
We regularly assist school districts as they seek to identify and acquire the right technologies to suit their educational objectives. This often means negotiating, drafting, and reviewing software licenses or agreements to purchase equipment such as laptops, tablets, and other tools. We assist with compliance in the purchasing process, drafting RFPs, bidding matters, lowest-price guarantees, and financing, including e-Rate financing.
Cybersecurity: prevention and response
Cybersecurity is a complex matter that includes both preventative measures and response planning. On the front end, we assist with contracts with cybersecurity companies as well as security components of software licenses and equipment agreements. Training and planning for breach responses also help ensure that if there is a problem, district personnel know how to handle it. On the response side, should there be a data breach, a ransomware attack, or other problem, we’re ready to jump in and advise on initial responses, notification requirements, crisis communications, and more.
New products have a way finding their way into the education market. From augmented reality and artificial intelligence to e-sports and new social media platforms, the changes don’t stop coming. Clients depend on F3 to stay on top of these new technologies and advise them on how to implement them safely and effectively – or when appropriate avoid them altogether. For example, ChatGPT, launched in November 2022, has been arguably the fastest and potentially most important AI application to hit the market. Is there a way for schools to use it productively while preventing its use for plagiarism? How can schools participate in the new e-sports programs popping up everywhere? These are the kinds of questions emerging technologies raise and about which F3 is well-versed.
Responsible use of technology
Responsible use of technology is a broad and complex area focused on how students and staff engage with online tools such as social media. We assist school districts as they seek to develop policies that establish rules regarding personal mobile devices in schools, promote online safety, and prevent a wide range of bad online behaviors such as cyberbullying, sexting, and drug dealing. There may be first and fourth amendment issues in play when districts engage in online monitoring for purposes of preventing other issues, such as self-harm and violent threats and acts. But prevention is far from the only issue, as schools struggle with how to respond to these behaviors within the law and the California Education Code. What are a district’s legal exposures? How should a district work with law enforcement? These are all complex questions but well within the experience of F3 attorneys.
Ensuring data privacy
Some matters of data privacy are enshrined in federal and state law, such as The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), California’s Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA), the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). Balancing compliance with laws and regulations against the need to prevent harm to students and schools is a complex matter with which experienced legal counsel can be of significant value. From compliance to best practices, F3 attorneys will help you find the approach and balance that makes.
Professional development in technology use and safety
We regularly provide training and professional development programs to school boards, administrators and educational organizations on topics like responsible social media use, legal liabilities, and many other topics.