woman with word 'silence' taped over her mouth

[UPDATE: See my thoughts on this policy]

A local school district here in Iowa is proposing the social media policy below for its employees. I have multiple concerns about it but am curious how others feel. What do you think is okay? What do you think is troublesome?

The school board will take another look at this policy in a few weeks, so any input that you can provide would be most welcome. I’ve given each item a letter for easy reference (e.g., E, H, X). Thanks!



1. Expectations for the use of personal social media

District staff should:

  1. Refrain from accepting current school district students as “friends” on personal social networking sites.
  2. Refrain from providing personal contact information to students.
  3. Be aware that people classified as “friends” have the ability to download and share your information with others.
  4. Remember that once something is posted to a social networking site, it may remain available online even if you think it is removed, and it may be far-reaching.
  5. Set and maintain social networking privacy settings at the most restrictive level.
  6. Not use a social networking site to discuss students or employees.
  7. Not post images that include students.

2. Expectations for the use of educational networking sites

District staff must:

  1. Notify your supervisor about the use of any educational network and discuss with your supervisor the need for notification to parents and other staff.
  2. Use district-supported networking tools when available.
  3. Be aware that all online communications are stores and can be monitored.
  4. Have a clear statement of purpose and outcomes for the use of the networking tool.
  5. Establish a code of conduct for all network participants.
  6. Not post images that include a student who does not have permission from a parent to have his/her image displayed.
  7. Pay close attention to the site’s security settings and allow only approved participants access to the site.

3. Expectations for all networking sites

District employees should:

  1. Not submit or post confidential or protected information about the district, its students, alumni or employees. You should assume that most information about a student is protected from disclosure by both federal law (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and state law (Iowa Code Section 22.7(1)). Disclosures of confidential or protected information may result in liability for invasion of privacy or defamation.
  2. Report, as required by law, any information found on a social networking site that falls under the mandatory reporting guidelines.
  3. Not use commentary or post pictures or video deemed to be defamatory, obscene, profane, or which promotes, fosters or perpetuates illegal discrimination of any kind. Exercise caution with regards to exaggeration, colorful language, guesswork, copyrighted materials, legal conclusions and derogatory remarks or characterizations.
  4. Not identify yourself as a representative of or spokesperson for the district, unless you have been approved to do so by the superintendent or the communications coordinator. This includes using school logos, mascots, photographs or other such graphic representations or images associated with the district.
  5. Not create an alias, false or anonymous identity on any social media.
  6. Consider whether a particular posting puts your professional reputation and effectiveness as a district employee at risk.
  7. Be cautious of security risks when using applications that work with the social networking site. (Examples of these sites are calendar programs and games).
  8. Run updated malware protection to avoid infections of spyware and adware that social networking sites might place on your personal devices (a computer or other device not issued by the school district).
  9. Be alert to the possibility of phishing scams that arrive by email or on your social networking site.
  10. Anyone who wishes to establish a social media account for specific school district offices, initiatives, schools or programs must first contact the communications coordinator. Social media may be used for school-related purposes only with the approval of the communications coordinator. If you have questions, would like to start a social media initiative on behalf of a district entity, or have content you would like posted to the district’s Facebook page, please contact the district communications coordinator.