Tips for managing social media in schools
Here are some suggestions from districts that have created policies:
- Create a distinct social media policy rather than simply adding on to existing guidelines or rules for employee conduct.
- Draw on the experience of other districts and organizations, even those in the private sector.
- Involve teachers in developing the policy.
- Train teachers using real-life examples.
- Spell out consequences and avenues of appeal.
- Be clear that there is no expectation of privacy when it comes to using social media sites.
- This specificity is critical to defending the district from legal challenges by employees who are disciplined.
- Be consistent in handling disciplinary situations with those who violate the policy. Legal experts warn that inconsistent punishments, such as suspension or termination, can be successfully challenged by employees in court.
- Differentiate between employees who contact a student just once or twice from those who may need to use social media more often for educational purposes. Judy Chiasson, coordinator of human relations, diversity, and equity at the Los Angeles USD, says the district considers the post’s intention, whether it’s a “one time thing and innocuous,” versus repeated contact that crosses an inappropriate line. For example, texting or posting to a student’s Facebook page information about an upcoming Shakespearean play would be different from eventually writing, “Do you want to go to this play with me?”