3051: Staff and ESU Social Media Use

Social media is an important tool for communicating, keeping up-to-date with current developments in education, and for conducting research to enhance management, teaching, and learning skills. The ESU also uses social media accounts to provide information to ESU stakeholders. This policy is intended to ensure (1) appropriate use of social media by staff and (2) appropriate control of social media accounts belonging to or affiliated with the ESU. Staff should also refer to the ESU’s policy on Staff Computer and Internet Usage.

  1. Personal Versus School-Affiliated Social Media Use
    1. Personal Social Media Use
      1. The ESU will not require staff members or applicants for employment to provide the ESU with their username and password to personal social media accounts.
      2. The ESU will not require staff to add anyone to the list of contacts associated with the staff member’s personal social media accounts or require a staff member to change the settings on his or her personal social media accounts so that others can or cannot view their accounts.
      3. Staff members whose personal social media use interferes with the orderly operation of the school or who use social media in ways that are not protected by the First Amendment may be subject to discipline by the ESU.
      4. Staff members who wish to begin using or to continue using the ESU name, programs, mascot, image or likeness as part of any social media profile must notify their supervising administrator of the use, and must secure the administrator’s permission to do so. 
    2. School-Affiliated Social Media Use
      1. Any social media account which purports to be “the official” account of the ESU (e.g., “ESU 4 Bowling”), or any of its programs, classes or entities will be considered to be an account that is used exclusively for the ESU’s business purpose. Staff members may not use “official” accounts for personal use.
      2. Staff may be required to provide their supervising administrator with the username and password to school-affiliated social media accounts.
      3. Staff may be required to interact with specified individuals on school-affiliated social media accounts.
      4. When staff use school-affiliated social media accounts to comment on school-related matters, they do not do so as private citizens and are therefore not entitled to First Amendment protections.
  2. Staff Expectations in Use of Social Media – Applicable to Both Personal and School-Affiliated Use
    1. General Use and Conditions
      1. Staff must comply with all board policies, contract provisions, and applicable rules of professional conduct in their social media usage. They must comply with the board’s policy on professional boundaries between staff and students at all times and in both physical and digital environments.
      2. Staff must obtain the consent of their building administrator or the ESU Administrator prior to posting any student-related information in order to make sure that the publication does not violate the Federal Education Records Privacy Act or any other laws. Staff must also comply with all applicable state and federal record retention requirements, even with regard to personal social media usage.
      3. Staff must comply with all applicable laws prohibiting the use or disclosure of impermissible content, such as copyright laws, accountability and disclosure laws, and any other law governing the use of resources of a political subdivision. Questions about appropriate content should be referred to the staff member’s supervising administrator.
    2. Acceptable Use
      1. Staff may use social media for instructional purposes.
      2. Staff may use social media for school-related communication with fellow educators, students, parents, and patrons.
      3. Teachers should integrate the use of electronic resources, which may include social media, into the classroom. As the quality and integrity of content on social media is not guaranteed, teachers must examine the source of the information and provide guidance to students on evaluating the quality of information they may encounter.
    3. Unacceptable Use
      1. Staff shall not access obscene or pornographic material while at school, on school-owned device or on school-affiliated social media accounts.
      2. Staff shall not engage in any illegal activities, including the downloading and reproduction of copyrighted materials.
      3. Staff shall not access social media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on school-owned devices or during school time unless such access is for an educational activity which has been preapproved by the staff member’s immediate supervisor. This prohibition extends to using chat rooms, message boards, or instant messaging in social media applications and includes posting on social networking sites using personal electronic devices. 
  3. School-Affiliated Digital Content
    1. General Use and Conditions for School-Affiliated Accounts
      1. Staff must obtain the permission of their supervising administration prior to creating, publishing, or using any school-affiliated web pages, microblogs, social media pages or handles, or any other digital content which represents itself to be school-related, or which could be reasonably understood to be school-related. This includes any content which identifies the ESU by name in the account name or which uses the school’s mascot name or image.
      2. Staff must provide administrators with the username and password for all school-affiliated accounts and must only publish content appropriate for the school setting. Staff may not provide the username and password to school-affiliated accounts to any unauthorized individual, including students and volunteers.
    2. Moderation of Third Party Content
      1. The purpose of school-related social media accounts is to disseminate information. No school-related or school-affiliated social media account covered by this policy shall permit comments by the public unless otherwise approved by the Administrator. All comment functions for applications such as Facebook and Instagram must be turned to “off” without this approval.
      2. In the event the Administrator permits content created by anyone other than the administrator of the account to appear on the account’s pages, such as comments made by students, parents, and patrons, the account administrator must monitor the content to ensure it complies with this policy. Posts, comments, or any other content made on the account’s pages may be removed when the content meets any of the following conditions:
        1. Is obscene, lewd, or appeals to prurient interests;
        2. Contains information relating to a student matter or personnel matter which is protected under or prohibited by state or federal law;
        3. Contains threatening, harassing, or discriminatory words or phrases;
        4. Incites or is reasonably anticipated to incite violence, illegal activity, or a material and substantial disruption to school operations or activities; or
        5. Contains any other threat to the safety of students and staff.
      3. Every account administrator must keep a copy of any removed content and must provide a copy to the Administrator along with written notification for the reason the post has been removed. All questions about the appropriateness of removal must be directed to the Administrator.

Adopted on: December 10, 2018
Revised on: _______________
Reviewed on: May 9, 2022