To: All District employees
From: Tony Pierantozzi, Superintendent
Re: Guidelines for social networking and other Internet tools
In your position as a role model to students, families and colleagues I offer the following guidelines and reminders about how you present yourself on social networking sites like Facebook and in other parts of the Internet.
Overall, District employees who choose to use the Internet for social or professional networking purposes are urged to be cautious about the content of the material they post on the Internet. The District's Acceptable Use Policy states that Staff cannot have associations with students through virtual technology if they are irregular, unprofessional, improper or imprudent in ways that negatively affect the goals of the District. Any conduct which reflects poorly upon personnel or the school district may be grounds for disciplinary action. I have discretion in determining if conduct reflects poorly on our students, staff and the District.
• "Friending" students, former students under 18 years old, and/or families of students: It is recommended that you not "friend" students, former students under 18 years old, or the families of students in order to keep your role as educator clear. In the eyes of the law, all educators are considered to be in a "position of trust" both inside and outside of the classroom.
• Using strict privacy controls: Even if you make the decision to never "friend" a student, students still can have access to content you post on social networking sites, as well as content available across the Internet (e.g. comments on blogs, etc.). Expect that students will "Google" you. It is recommended that you use the strictest privacy controls possible to ensure that your personal life remains personal, and conflicts over publicly accessible Web content are minimized.
• Posting inappropriate or disruptive content: The District's Acceptable Use Policy states that staff cannot use the Internet to post inappropriate data, documents, photographs or other such information that might result in a disruption of classroom activity. This can include pictures or writing by educators which contradict messaging about safe and healthy decisions or commentary that places our schools or programs in an unflattering light. To avoid potential conflicts it is recommended that you only publish work-related writing/images on District-authorized websites or other media tools.
• Maintaining staff and student privacy: Employees should respect the privacy of the school District community and should not divulge or post online any identifying information of any member of the school district community, particularly on personal web pages or social networking sites, without permission (including, but not limited to, names, addresses, photos, videos, email addresses, phone numbers).
• Password integrity: Staff cannot provide passwords for District and social networking tools to students. If a student(s) maintains a club or other school-related page(s) on the District's website, a separate username and password can be created for the student. Submit a request through the IT Help desk to have a student account set up for your student helpers and leaders.
• Representing the District in your public communication: School employees should understand that certain expectations for professional conduct extend into the personal online world of social networking, blogs, and other communication tools, especially regarding mention of the school District, or members of the school District community.
These guidelines also extend to the District's official use of tools like Facebook (Somerville Public Schools fan page) and Twitter (@svilleschools) to promote events and activities in the Somerville Public Schools. Content on these sites is controlled by the Coordinator of R&D, Public Information and Grants, Gretchen Kinder. Please contact her if there is something you want posted or shared through either our official Facebook and/or Twitter accounts.
I am aware that there are also unofficial and unauthorized sites about the Somerville Public Schools on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites on the Internet. A recent incident where potentially libelous content was posted on Facebook about some teachers reminds me that the District has far less control over content posted online. If you hear of or see online content about a member of our staff or some other aspect of District operations please let your supervisor know so we can try, within our power, to address the situation.
Thank you for your attention to and cooperation in this important matter.