Capital School Board votes to approve guidelines for employee social media usage, and hears proposal for student social media policy at Wednesday's school board meeting.


Capital School District is prompting both students and employees to consider the impact of what they’re posting to social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, and their communication between one another. The district has developed two social media use policies — one for students, one for employees. On Wednesday evening, they will vote on accepting the employee social media use policy, and will hear the first of three readings on the student social media use policy.

Director of Human Resources David Vaughan said the district’s insurance provider, Utica National Insurance Group, encouraged it to develop the employee social media use policy.

Vaughan said the policy is not to tell employees they can’t use social media or that they shouldn’t.

“What we’re telling employees is just to be as professional as possible,” Vaughan said.

Employees are prohibited from certain online activities, such as promoting illegal activity and violence, making defamatory comments about co-workers or members of the public they regularly deal with, disclosing confidential information and more.

The policy prohibits employees from establishing unprofessional, personal relationships with students, including “employees fraternizing or communicating with students as if employees and students were peers.” In other words, behavior such as calling students for non-class related reasons, sending inappropriate photos, and discussing personal matters about their private lives are prohibited.

Vaughan said there have been incidents in other districts where texting became more personal than professional. While it usually turns out to be a benign conversation, Vaughan said they’d rather prevent the personal conversations before they happen.

“I’m not sure that we want people to get that personal with their kids,” he said.

Guidance counselors have a bit more leeway, Vaughan added.

If teachers or other staff are going to use social media for professional purposes, such as using a Facebook page to contact a student’s parents, they are allowed to do so as long as they tell their immediate supervisor.

The board will vote to accept the employee policy during Wednesday evening’s board meeting.

They also will hear the first of three readings on a student social media policy being proposed, and vote on an updated acceptable use of technology policy.

The acceptable use policy was last updated in 2009, according to Ben Wells, technology supervisor. The new policy includes more current terminology, and is more robust, he said.

It is geared toward helping employees understand online safety, including everything from passwords to cyberbullying.

The student policy encourages students to consider how they use social media – both in and out of school. It recommends they routinely check their privacy settings, think before they post, protect their character and the privacy of others, avoid plagiarism, and more.

It also prohibits students from engaging in sexual offenses, promoting illegal activities or violence, and discrimination.

The cyberbullying segment spells out prohibited behavior, such as flaming, denigration, exclusion, impersonation, and any other form of bullying as defined in the established bullying prevention policy.