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School district develops social networking guidelines for staff

By Staff | Aug 31, 2010

The School District of Lee County has established some guidelines to help employees avoid pitfalls associated with social networking sites.
District guidelines include:
* Employees using sites should be honest about who they are
* An employee may identify themselves as a district employee as long as they express they are stating their own opinion and not that of the district
* Employees should not post any information that is confidential or proprietary about the district, and
* Employees should not communicate with students who are currently enrolled in the district on any social networking sites.
The guidelines were presented by Superintendent Dr. James Browder at the school board briefing meeting Tuesday.
A committee of school district principals, administrators and personnel was put together to develop the guidelines for school district employees in hope of avoiding potential repercussions that could occur from social network postings or pictures.
The social networking guidelines are designed to help protect school district personnel as well as the reputation of the school district, Browder said, adding the district will embark on an information campaign.
The guidelines will be distributed to principals, who,in turn, will pass them on to staff members.
The district intends to go slow.
Board Attorney Keith Martin said the first step in promoting the awareness campaign is to make district personnel aware of the guidelines. He told the board members that the district needs to proceed cautiously before thinking about making the guidelines actual policy.
Chairman Steven Teuber said the guidelines are not set in stone and the district will continue to review and modify them.
Governmental entities are not taking a bold steps in addressing the use of social networks, Browder agreed.
Most are supporting the proactive approach of keeping employees safe, he added. The reason for providing the guidelines, he said, is to give district employees all the “things we can to help ourselves stay protected.”
Browder provided the board members with Facebook statistics to illustrate how popular the social networking websites have become.
There are approximately 500 million active users on Facebook, which if it were a country, Browder said, it would be the third largest country surpassing the United States. Facebook users are activating their pages for approximately 700 billion minutes a month, he added.
“Today’s solutions creates tomorrows problems,” Board Member Jane Kuckel said.
“I’m glad we are up front with this in a professional matter,” she said.