The numbers are ever-increasing: Facebook currently reports 2.01 billion users; LinkedIn has 500 million members; Twitter comes in at 330 million users; and YouTube reports approximately 5 billion views per day.
Social media is not going away, but instead becoming more prevalent every day. While there can be positive aspects to staff members’ use of social media, there is also a great potential for misuse of this medium – both in and out of the work place.
What can a school district do to combat employees’ potential misuse of it? Here are the top 10 tips for managing staff member use of social media:
- Review and update (as needed) your district’s Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) to ensure the social media policy for staff members is as comprehensive as possible.
- Ensure that your district is providing training opportunities for staff members detailing the parameters and restrictions within the AUP to allow for staff members to have a full understanding of the policy.
- Document all training opportunities for staff members (including sign-in sheets, attendance records, signed policy acknowledgement forms, etc.).
- Ensure that staff members are informed of and understand their obligations to comply with state and federal laws related to maintaining confidential information, which includes the potential dissemination of student information via social media.
- Ensure that staff members are informed of and understand their professional obligations to ensure that social media and related technology may not be utilized to promote inappropriate communications with students.
- Ensure that staff members are informed of and understand their mandatory reporting obligations carry over to social media platforms pursuant to statutory obligations and district policies (i.e. issues related to harassment, bullying, hazing, etc.).
- Ensure that staff members are informed of and understand that their personal social media presence is entirely their responsibility – if they fail to utilize appropriate privacy settings and/or post improper content that is reported to the district, disciplinary consequences may follow.
- Designate an in-house contact person for staff member questions about the AUP. That person will address questions, comments and concerns about the policy to ensure the district is providing a consistent message relative to all aspects of the policy.
- Encourage staff member cooperation, not just compliance. If a staff member has a concern or question about the district’s AUP or content he/she has viewed on social media (relative to the district, a staff member/administrator or student), encourage a cooperative atmosphere of raising inquiries and reporting concerns.
- Ensure that new employees have an opportunity to be fully apprised of your district’s AUP as soon as possible following their hire.
Sara Markouc is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses her practice on education law as well as labor and employment law. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 216-928-2924.