Prince George’s County schools considers owning student and teachers’ work

WASHINGTON – An eighth-grader’s research paper, a kindergartner’s drawing and a teacher’s lesson plan would become the property of the Prince George’s County Board of Education if a proposed copyright policy is approved.

The proposal says any work created for school or by using school materials would become property of the school board. Property includes staff work as well as student assignments completed inside and outside the classroom.

Lawrence Sung, an intellectual property rights lawyer and partner with BakerHostetler in D.C, says the legality of the proposal is questionable. He adds it’s common for employers to own employee work, but in this case, students are not being paid for their work.

“We always worry about what the slippery slope can be,” he says. “If there is no pushback for this at this point and time, you will never know where it will evolve.”

Verjeana Jacobs, chair of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, tells The Washington Post that the proposal should be re-worded because it is not the board’s intention to “declare ownership” of students’ work.

“We want the district to get the recognition … not take their work,” Jacobs says.

According to the Post, the board approved the policy for consideration at a meeting last month, but took the proposal off the agenda Thursday.

If the board accepts the policy, Prince George’s County Public Schools would become the only district in the D.C. area in which the school board owns the work of students and faculty.

Prince George's County Public Schools Board of Education proposal

WTOP’s Jamie Forzato contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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