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Series 4000 - Personnel -Certified & Non-Certified

4218.51 REG - 2. Non-Certified Personnel - A. Permanent Personnel - (8) Rights, Responsibilities and Duties - (c) Duties - (iv) Social Networking
Posted 12/01/2010 09:00AM

4218.51 REG

Series 4000 – Personnel – Certified & Non-Certified

2.  Non-Certified Personnel

A.  Permanent Personnel

(8)  Rights, Responsibilities and Duties

(c) Duties

(iv) Social Networking

The Board of Education recognizes the importance of social media for its employees, and acknowledges that its employees have the right under the First Amendment, in certain circumstances, to speak out on matters of public concern. However, the Superintendent/or his/her designee will regulate the use of social media by employees, including employees’ personal use of social media, when such use:

  •  interferes with or disturbs the work of the school district,
  •  is used to harass coworkers or other members of the school community,
  • creates a hostile work environment,
  • breaches confidentiality obligations of school district employees,
  • harms the goodwill and reputation of the school district in the community,
  • or violates the law, board policies and/or other school rules and regulations.

The Superintendent with the administration will create and maintain administrative regulations to implement this policy.

Definitions:
Social Media includes, but is not limited to, social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and MySpace.

Board of Education includes all names, logos, buildings, images and entities under the authority of the Board of Education.

Rules concerning Personal Social Media Activity

  1. An employee may not mention, discuss or reference the Board of Education, the school district or its individual schools, programs or teams on personal social network sites, unless the employee also states that the post is the personal communication of the employee of the school district and that the views posted are the employee’s alone and do not represent the views of the school district or the Board of Education.
  2. Employees must refrain from mentioning the Superintendent, Board of Education members, School district employees or other members of the school community (e.g. parents or others) on personal social networking sites, without such individuals’ express consent unless the employee is addressing an issue of public concern and the employee’s speech falls under applicable constitutional protections pertaining to the same.
  3. Employees are required to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with students, parents, and colleagues. It is not appropriate for a teacher or administrator to “friend” or communicate with a student or his/her parent or guardian or otherwise establish special relationships with selected students through personal social media. It is also not appropriate for an employee to give students or parents access to personal postings unrelated to school.
  4. Unless given written consent, employees may not use the Board of Education’s logo or trademarks of their personal posts. Please note that this prohibition extends to the use of logos or trademarks associated with individual schools, programs or teams of the school district.
  5. Employees are required to use appropriately respectful speech in their personal social media posts, and to refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications.
  6. Employees are individually responsible for their personal posts on social media. Employees may be sued by other employees, parents or others, and any individual that views an employee’s social media posts as defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous or creating a hostile work environment. As such activities are outside the scope of employment, employees may be personally liable for such claims.
  7. All posts on personal social media must comply with the Board of Education’s policies concerning confidentiality, including the confidentiality of student information. If an employee is unsure about the confidential nature of information the employee is considering posting, the employee shall consul with his/her supervisor prior to making the post.
  8. An employee may not link a personal social media site or webpage to the Board of Education’s website or the websites of individual schools, programs or teams; or post Board of Education material on a social media site or webpage without written permission of his/her supervisor.
  9. All Board of Education policies that regulate off-duty conduct apply to social media activity including, but not limited to, policies related to public trust, illegal harassment, code of conduct, and protecting confidential information.

Rules Concerning District-Sponsored Interactive Sites for School Purposes

  1. Employees may use interactive social media such as WikiSpaces, specially created Nings, or district adoptions of online applications such as Saywire, Live@edu or Google Apps for Education as an education tool or in relation to extracurricular activities or programs of the school district provided that the procedures below are followed and that the employee obtains the permission of his/her supervisor prior to setting up the site. The employee’s supervisor will also be provided access to any site that is established.
  2. Such activity will be used only for specific school related purposes. Sites used for these purposes must be closed in that the employee must set up password-protected access for the students and staff involved. Sites may not be publicly available. Activity must be moderated, monitored and supervised by the employee(s) who set up the site.
  3. Employees are required to use appropriately respectful speech on district-sponsored sites; and to refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications. Proper professional boundaries must be recognized at all times and all content and communication should be related only to the school purposes for which the site was established. Communication that is sensitive or personal in nature is to be avoided. Employees must also supervise student speech to ensure that it complies with the criteria above.
  4. An employee may not link a district-sponsored site or webpage to any personal social media sites or sites not sponsored by the school district. They will also inform students about the prohibited linking.
  5. An employee may not use district-sponsored sites in a manner that misrepresents personal views as those of the Board of Education, individual school or school district, or in the manner that could be construed as such. They must also supervise student use to ensure that it complies.

Rules Concerning District-Sponsored Social Medial Activity

  1. If an employee seeks to use social media sites as an educational tool or in relation to extracurricular activities or programs of the school district, the employee must seek and obtain the permission of his/her supervisor prior to setting up the site.
  2.  If an employee wishes to use Facebook or other similar social media sites to communicate meetings, activities, games, responsibilities,, announcements, etc., for a school-based club or a school-based activity or an official school-based organization, or an official sports team, the employee must also comply with the following rules:
    • The employee must set up the club, etc. as a group list which will be “closed” (e.g. the employee had the ability to access and supervise communications on the social media site).
    • When Facebook is used as a social media site, members will not be established as “friends” but as members of the group list.   When other social media sites are used, the employee will establish a similar parameter on the basis of the functionality of the social media site utilized.
    • Anyone who has access to the communications conveyed through the site may only gain access by the permission of the employee (e.g. teacher, administrator, supervisor or coach).  Persons desiring to access the page may join only after the employee invites them and allows them to join.
    • Parents shall be permitted to access any site that their child has been invited to join.
    • Access to the site may only be permitted for educational purposes related to the club, activity or organization or team.
    • The employee responsible for the site will monitor it regularly.
    • The employee’s supervisor shall be permitted access to any site established by the employee for a school-related purpose.
    • Employees are required to maintain appropriate professional boundaries in the establishment and maintenance of all such district-sponsored social media activity.
  3. Employees are required to comply with all Board of Education policies and procedures and all applicable laws with respect to the use of computer equipment, networks or devices when accessing district-sponsored social media sites.
  4. The Board of Education reserves the right to monitor all employee use of district computers and other electronic devices, including employee blogging and social networking activity.  An employee should have no expectation of personal privacy in any communication or post made through social media while using district computers, cellular telephones or other data devices.
  5. All posts on district-sponsored social media must comply with the Board of Education’s policies concerning confidentiality, including the confidentiality of student information.  If an employee is unsure about the confidential nature of the information the employee is considering posting, the employee shall consult with his/her supervisor prior to making the post.

Disciplinary Consequences   
Violation of the Board’s policy concerning the use of social media or these administrative guidelines may lead to discipline up to and including the termination of employment consistent with state and federal law.

Legal Reference:

U.S. Constitution, Amend. I
Conn. Constitution, Article I, sections 3, 4, 14
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-48d
Conn. Gen. Stat § 31-51q
Conn. Gen. Stat § 53a-182; 53a-183; 53a-250
Electronic Communication Privacy Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2510 through 2520

 

Regulation adopted: May 17, 2011 SUFFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    Suffield, Connecticut

Download the PDF of this Regulation

Suffield Public Schools 350 Mountain Road, Suffield, CT 06078
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