- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Staff expected to air on the side of caution
By LAURA DUKES
The Calvert County public school system is getting closer to establishing a new policy on social media, clearly defining appropriate uses for staff and students.
At Thursday’s Calvert County Board of Education meeting, Calvert County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Robin Welsh explained that a committee had been put together to study social media practices within the school system and draft a new policy.
The committee includes herself, Director of Instructional and Informational Technology Jonathan McClellan, board of education members Tracy McGuire and Dawn Balinski and numerous other teachers and principals.
McClellan said the group has been studying current practices related to acceptable use of computers and communication media.
He said some of the specific language in some of the current policies might be outdated because the popularity of various websites often changes.
“Twitter is the biggest now,” he said, continuing that language in the new policy should be kept pretty general with a few specific website names used as examples.
He said employees should be encouraged to use maximum privacy settings on their own social media websites and should avoid “friending” their students and their students’ parents.
McClellan said staff also should not be using social media to discuss their students, “just as they wouldn’t talk about a student in the grocery store.”
He also said social media websites should not be used to either praise or complain about a class.
Welsh said the deadline to put together some type of draft policy would likely be in January.
She said the committee had been researching social media practices across the country and, specifically, in Maryland.
Welsh said social media training workshops would need to be attended by all staff members in order for the school system to say all bases were covered.
“It’s not possible for us to monitor every single person — no way,” Welsh admitted.
McGuire and Balinski said they had been looking at some school systems’ Twitter pages and said there were some extremes of superintendents who post messages about “everything,” while on the other hand, there are boards of education that only post basic information about their meetings.
They said the school systems with less extensive social media websites could be missing a chance to interact with the community because parents in the school system don’t even know the websites exist.
“The community expectation is it’s got to be a two-way discussion,” McGuire said.
The board members said the trick to the new policy would be finding the balance between too much and not enough.
“The advice to anybody is ‘be careful what you put on the Internet.’ Start there,” board of education member Eugene Karol said.