BY GINA G. SCALA
Toms River Regional School District faculty and other staff members could see a substantial curtailing of personal use of social media sites during school hours and off-the-clock, if the Board of Education approves a new policy.
The regional school board this week introduced a policy that would prohibit teachers and other district employees from using social media sites during the school day. The policy is also explicit in the type of information district employees are barred from posting, including “sexually graphic” images; posts defaming the school district; job titles; work email addresses and confidential information.
Anyone violating the policy will be disciplined on a case-by-case basis, according to the harshness of the violation. School districts across the state are in the mist of adopting social media policies in accordance with a New Jersey directive.
The district, according to the policy, “respects the right of staff members to use social networking siites,” while acknowledging it holds employees to a “higher standard than the general public.”
Is the proposed policy a blatant desecration of the First Amendment as one member of the public implied this week? In one word ; no it isn’t a violation of the freedom of speech. It is, however, a necessary action to protect some from their own lack of commonsense.
A good rule of thumb for posting things online, if you wouldn’t want your parents to see it than your employers, co-workers, clients (students in this case) shouldn’t see it, either.
Before the policy becomes effective in Toms River, a second vote is necessary. It will be reviewed by the board’s attorney prior to that vote.
For those that don’t feel the need to live their entire life online, this steps seems intrusive and unnecessary. Unfortunately, more than one public figure has learned the hard way that what is posted online stays online – forever.
At some point, a school district somewhere will probably be sued for a policy of this nature and the money spent fighting the lawsuit will have been better spent on the students; life in the digital age.