SFUSD's App Approval Process

App Approval Process

New apps can offer exciting new ways to streamline processes, innovate, and create deeper learning for students. We also have many useful apps already approved for student use. Please review our existing apps at sfusd.edu/apps to see if one of these apps will meet your needs before requesting additional apps.

If you still would like to request a new app, we have a review process in order to ensure that new apps: 

  • support district curriculum and content standards
  • preserve student privacy
  • promote healthy digital learning

Please review the requirements for more information.

Approvals for the spring semester must be submitted by October 1st of the prior year. Approvals for the start of school next academic year must be submitted by April 1st. Note: Timelines are approximate and may vary depending on the vendor, legal and other approvals, but will take a minimum of 3 months.

App Approval Process FAQ

Approved and Funded Apps

How do I find out which apps are approved for use?

Visit our Approved Digital Tools & Apps for SFUSD Students website to find our most up-to-date list of approved apps.

Who approves SFUSD apps and what are the criteria? 

Apps are reviewed by SFUSD’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), Department of Technology (DoT) , Special Education (SpEd), LEAD and Legal Department. The process looks at many criteria, most importantly:

  • alignment to district curriculum and core instructional priorities 
  • security and safe handling of student data 
  • willingness to agree to our contract for keeping student data private
  • integration with existing district systems, such as featuring Google login or Clever rostering

What is Clever and why is it important for app approval? 

Clever is a Single Sign-On tool, or SSO, which is a convenient and secure tool for students and educators in our school district to access multiple online resources and applications, with just one set of login credentials. For every application used, we specify which users have access to that resource . Clever securely integrates with Synergy to automatically add and remove  students and staff without requiring staff to manually enter class, grade, and site student rosters. This automation allows students to have access to technology as soon as they enter a class. It also allows  schools and district offices to better manage license allocation for these resources. 

Can I use an app that hasn’t been approved?

No. SFUSD staff and students are prohibited from using apps that have not gone through the SFUSD approval process.  

How can I find the right app for my purpose if the app I want isn’t approved? 

Contact your school’s digital learning partner through the DoT’s Help Desk for advice on which approved app will best meet your classroom or site's needs.

If an app is approved, does that mean I have a purchased account?

No. App approval does not mean the app is purchased for all staff or students to use. Since individual sites have different needs, with the exception of a small group of core apps, applications are funded by individual sites to meet their specific needs.

Which apps are funded centrally?

You'll see the list on sfusd.edu/apps page.

How do I purchase an approved app?

The ISA’s for all approved apps can be found here: App Contract Log. Once you have downloaded and completed the ISA, you can submit it to procurement at contract@sfusd.edu

New App Approvals

How can I request a new app for approval?  

Visit the SFUSD App Approval Process website to learn how to submit an app for approval. Principals can submit requests for sites and supervisors can submit requests for central departments. We ask that academic apps requested by sites be reviewed by C&I departments before going to approval. All other staff are encouraged to contact their school site DLeaF or their Cohort Digital Learning Partner to learn about approved apps that can meet their needs. 

Which apps have been reviewed but did not meet SFUSD standards for approval?

While this list is not complete, below are some of the applications that have been already reviewed but do not meet SFUSD data-privacy standards. Or in some cases another, officially-supported alternative may be available.

  • Chegg
  • Class Dojo
  • EPIC
  • Flipgrid
  • Kami
  • Kidblog
  • LiveSchool
  • Minecraft / Minecraft Education Edition
  • Parent Square
  • PLT4m
  • Prodigy
  • Quizlet
  • Quizlet Live
  • Quizziz
  • Remind
  • Zearn

Is there a deadline for submitting Apps for approval? 

Approvals for the spring semester must be submitted by October 1st of the prior year. Approvals for the start of school next academic year must be submitted by April 1st. 

How long will it take for me to learn if an app has been approved? 

A minimum of 3 months is needed to complete the review process. 

Why is the process so long to get an app approved? 

Apps must be reviewed by multiple teams before a decision can be reached and before it goes before the Legal Department. In some cases, it may also be necessary to seek board approval which means stages of approval must wait for when it can be added to a board meeting agenda. Board meetings occur once per month.

Is the App approval process the same if it is an app whose contract has expired? 

It depends. Oftentimes, apps add new services and/or products to their software. Check with the vendor first. If they have added new services or products, complete the full app approval process linked above. If they do not have any new additions, principals and clerks can contact procurement at contract@sfusd.edu and inquire about a possible extension. If an extension is not possible and they have added no new products or services, the process can be expedited with only step 3 of the app approval process needing to be completed.

If the app is free do I need to go through the app approval process? 

Please contact procurement at contract@sfusd.edu. Free apps still have insurance requirements and an SSA or MOU must be in place for use in the district. Contact procurement at contract@sfusd.edu for more information.

What if my vendor would like to make changes to the SFUSD standard contract? 

Apps will not be approved if the vendor cannot sign the contract written as is with no editing or “redlining” of our terms. 

Who contacts and negotiates with the app vendor? 

The SFUSD administrator or supervisor who requested the app.

How can I find more information about contracting? 

Please contact procurement at contract@sfusd.edu or attend their twice monthly clinics to learn more about the next steps once an app is approved.

Do apps need board approval? 

If the cost is above $109,000, it may need board of education approval.

Who will create my contracts and submit them? 

The requester is responsible. Contact Procurement at contract@sfusd.edu with questions on the process. 


Special Circumstances

Can I buy apps with PTA funds directly without using this review process? 

No, apps still need to be reviewed by Legal, C&I and DoT to ensure student privacy and curricular alignment. 

Can I buy an app from another country? 

No, because the legal and insurance requirements are different in different countries. Other countries will have different regulations about apps. 

What is an amendment and when is it needed?  

If the original contract didn’t include the full list of products, most commonly because they have added new tools or features, then those new products need to be evaluated. Please make sure to include all products in your contract to avoid this. 

Definitions & Contact Info

Who do I contact with questions? 

Please submit a help ticket by emailing help@sfusd.edu 

What is an MSA?

Master Services Agreement (MSA) is an agreement between the vendor of a tool and SFUSD that the application will protect student and staff data and abide by other requirements by the district. It is not a purchase of the tool. Once an MSA is Board of Education approved, an Independent Service Agreement (ISA) is generated that sites and departments can use to purchase the tool. MSAs are commonly multi-year (3-5 years) at which time they need to be renegotiated.

What is an ISA? 

Individual Service Agreements (ISA) are included in the Master Service Agreement (MSA) for sites/departments to use to purchase the application. An ISA is the agreement between the site and the vendor for the purchase details. Prices are set for the duration of the agreement, however this is where a site will determine for instance, which products in the app will be purchased, the number of licenses, professional development, and how many years it will be purchased for. 

Where do I find ISAs? 

Employees can find all available ISAs on the ISA website  and log in with their SFUSD google account.

What is an MOU? 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an agreement that an app that does not require payment follows proper guidelines for the safety and security of our students. Even free apps are prohibited for use by SFUSD staff and students if there is not an MOU in place. If an App has an MOU but not an MSA then it cannot be purchased, and only the free version can be used.

This page was last updated on June 4, 2024