Teacher Restrictions on Social Media Applications

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In an age of rapid technological advancements, schools are on red alert mode when it comes to technology and social media use in regards to students. However, some question the school’s policy on teachers’ use of their technology and social media.

When asked about policies regarding teachers and social media, many teachers knew near to nothing on the topic. Principal Evans Branigan III knows his view on the topic and how he deals with this issue.

“Teachers have a right to their voice, and if their voice is on social media then more power to them,” Branigan said, “I think any school board, any administrator would be dancing a very delicate line between legal and illegal if they tried to say what a teacher could and could not post on their social and free time, in their home, in their car, and I don’t want to be involved in that because again, that is their right to share their thoughts.”

Health teacher Barbi Kern is very cognizant of what she posts on social media.

“I just use my best judgement and draw a line and I’m not going to put myself into harm’s way or into a situation that can blow up,” Kern said.

One way many teachers prevent conflicts with social media is to deter students from seeing their social media sites.

“I make it very clear, when I do talk about it, that I don’t accept any students, any current students, past students, nothing like that,” Kern said.  

Subsection E in section 3213 of the Washington Township bylaws and policies, “Student Supervision and Welfare” states, “staff members shall only engage in electronic communication with students via email, texting, social media and/or online networking media, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Skype, blogs, etc., when such communication is directly related to curricular matters or co-curricular/extra-curricular events or activities. The Superintendent will develop guidelines related to the use of electronic communication by staff members.”

Not only do many teachers not want students on their social media, but it is legally forbidden by the township. However, there are teachers who are willingly connected to students via social media in direct violation of this policy and the law.

Since this policy was instated in 2013 there have been no significant cases taken to the school board for violation of said policy.

Teachers and students alike are encouraged by the school administration to keep their relationships on social media purely professional.