Grammarly banned on school chromebooks due to privacy issue


Screenshot By Jackie Clay

Screenshot of Grammarly ban on Westford Public School chromebooks.

Jackie Clay, Staff Writer

Grammarly was removed from school computers at the beginning of the 22-23 school year. The Westford Public Schools digital learning department noticed that Grammarly had been turned on school-issued devices, but there was no signed privacy agreement with them. It was then banned because there was no agreement.

How the online tool became active without an agreement is a mystery. According to a member of the Digital Learning Department, Stephanie Gosselin, it could be due to a Google Chrome update that changed the school computers settings.

All applications on school computers must have a signed privacy agreement in order to protect student data, something required by law. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects students records in schools.

“All software and web based tools that are used at WA sign an agreement to keep your data private. Grammarly didn’t sign this agreement and is [therefore] not available to student users in WPS,” Gosselin said.

By not signing an agreement with WPS, Grammarly did not promise to protect student information. Therefore the school could not allow Grammarly to stay on school devices. However, Grammarly is still available to be used by students, just not on school computers.  Since Grammarly has been removed, questions can now be asked about getting this agreement.

“[Gosselin] is going to connect with Grammarly to inquire about the privacy changes and the possibility of an agreement,” Dean Betsy Murphy said.

The Digital Learning Department can begin looking into obtaining a signed agreement with Grammarly in order for students to access the application on their school chromebooks. Though that process could take a significant amount of time to complete, Grammarly could make a return in the future.