hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

March 28, 2012

Schools set networking guidelines

Teachers cautioned to keep it professional

Social media websites have become a valuable resource as well as a dangerous avenue in today's society, and the Haverhill public schools are beginning to address the issue.

Superintendent James Scully said that the district is working on policies that will set guidelines for proper use of social networking websites by both staff and students.

"It's long overdue," said Scully.

The policies for staff and students are in response to the proliferation of social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter that have appeared over the last five years.

The schools want to ensure that there is no inappropriate conversation between teacher and student through any electronic medium.

"The school district expects you to keep the line between your professional life and your personal life clearly drawn at all times," reads one section of the draft social networking policy for teachers and administrators.

Staff are urged to use only school-based email to communicate with parents and students electronically and to keep personal and professional social networking accounts separate. Scully said that the School Department is in the process of setting up a Twitter account for each staff member to use professionally.

Any professional account should only be associated with administrators, teachers, students and parents of students. It is recommended that "friend" requests from other people be rejected.

Teachers are also reminded to use discretion regarding what goes on their page and respect the privacy rights of students.

The policy reminds teachers that no matter what communication medium they use, they "should adhere to appropriate teacher/student boundaries. You are a role model, not a student's friend, you are his/her teacher, and you should always conduct yourself in accordance with this understanding."

Teachers are barred from accessing personal email or Facebook accounts using school district computers.

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