This page will provide information on Policy 815.1: Social Media - Employee & Student Use
Read the social media policy in its entirety
What is the history behind the policy?
The district officially began using social media to communicate with parents and other stakeholders in June 2012 following the adoption of Policy 911.1: Social Media for District Use
. The School Board recognized the next step would be to create a policy for student and employee use of social media. A group of district employees was tasked to spearhead this development at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. The group held focus groups with parents, students and teachers, conducted a district-wide survey, researched existing policies at other schools and districts across the country, reviewed academic papers, studies and statistics, and presented its progress at various Board and Committee meetings. As with all district policies and per district guidelines, the School Board approved Policy 815.1 at the May 28, 2013 Board Meeting after two dedicated readings.
Why create the policy?
The district realizes that part of 21st century learning is adapting to the changing methods of communication. The district also recognizes the value of teacher, employee and student inquiry, investigation and innovation when using new technology tools to enhance the educational experience. It is the district’s obligation to teach and promote responsible and safe use of these technologies with an understanding that teachers and students engaging, collaborating, learning and sharing in these digital environments is an important part of 21st century learning.
What is the purpose of the policy?
The purpose of the policy is to provide rules and guidelines for employees and students who currently use or would like to use social media personally or as a tool to enhance instruction.
What social media is covered by the policy?
The policy addresses all online communication tools that "allow for and/or facilitate various means of interaction, communication and information sharing." These include blogs, microblogs, social networks, media sharing services, wikis and other shared workspaces, mobile- and location-based services, virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games and education-based learning management systems. (View Social Media Glossary
Are teachers required to use social media as part of classroom instruction?
The use of social media by teachers and other employees for both professional and personal use is entirely their decision. There is no mandate whatsoever that an employee or student use social media.
Does the policy require teachers to get permission from an administrator prior to using social media with students?
Teachers are not required to receive permission from an administrator prior to introducing social media in the classroom. However, teachers new to social media or seeking feedback about an idea for social media in the classroom are strongly encouraged to reach out to their principal or an administrative department for guidance, including the district's communications office
. Teachers may also wish to communicate with parents prior to or during their use of social media with students to keep parents informed and address any concerns. See the social media Resources, Terms & Stats
page for related help.
Are employees permitted to be social media "friends" or "followers" of students through their personal accounts?
Employees are prohibited to engage in personal social-networking "friendships" with students on Facebook or other social media. Engaging in personal social-networking "friendships" with parents or guardians of students must be carefully considered.
How can a teacher interact with students on social media without being personal "friends"?
Teachers wishing to use Twitter, Facebook or another social media account as a forum for students to engage in discussions about a classroom project or other purpose must create a dedicated account for the project/class and instruct students to join that account. For more information, contact Michael Petitti
Parents: What if I don't want my child to use social media in the classroom?
The policy does not address parents who may wish to opt out their children from using social media. As with all matters concerning a child's upbringing, many adults play a role in nurturing a successful and well-adjusted student. Teachers who use social media in the classroom do so with a plan to benefit the lesson and their students' learning experience. Along the way, teachers model appropriate online behavior and stress the need to be positive digital citizens. The district understands there may be parents who prefer their child refrains from using social media regardless of the intended instructional and behavioral goals. These parents are encouraged to work with their child's teacher to achieve an amicable solution for classroom projects in which social media is utilized.
Does the policy prohibit or restrict personal use of social media?
Employees and students are free to use social media in their personal lives. However, all employees and students must refrain from communicating inappropriate materials and information via social media, including but not limited to:
- Confidential, personally identifiable, or otherwise sensitive information pertaining to RTSD, its students, employees or guests;
- Child pornography, sexual exploitation, bullying/cyberbullying or inappropriate commercialization of childhood experiences;
- Defamatory or discriminatory statements or images;
- Proprietary information of RTSD and/or a RTSD vendor;
- Infringed upon intellectual property, such as information that violates copyright laws;
- Terroristic threats; and
- Illegal items and activities.
Can I create and maintain an "official RTSD" social media account?
Employees wishing to create, imply ownership of, or control a social media account that alleges to be the official and sanctioned account of RTSD (such as @RadnorTSD
) or a district school must first receive permission from the superintendent and/or communications office. Employees are not permitted to represent themselves as RTSD or school spokespeople through social media without the express permission of the district’s superintendent and/or communications office. Employees and students are also prohibited from using the name of Radnor Township School District or its logo in any form on social media, on websites not owned or related to RTSD, or in forums/discussion boards, to express or imply the official position of RTSD without permission from the superintendent and/or communications office.
What are the consequences of misuse of social media according to the policy?
- For students: Loss of access to RTSD’s communication and information systems and other appropriate disciplinary actions, including but not limited to, warnings, usage restrictions, loss of privileges, suspension, expulsion, penalties provided in statutes, regulations, and other laws and/or legal proceedings, referral to law enforcement, depending on the severity of the offense and as determined to be appropriate by RTSD on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the PA School Code of 1949.
- For employees: Loss of access to RTSD’s communication and information systems and other appropriate disciplinary actions, including but not limited to, warnings, usage restrictions, loss of privileges, position reassignment, oral or written reprimands, suspension (with or without pay), dismissal, breach of contract, penalties provided in statutes, regulations, and other laws and/or legal proceedings, referral to law enforcement depending on the severity of the offense and as determined to be appropriate by RTSD on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement and/or the PA School Code of 1949.