The Seattle School Board voted this week to enact a new policy for this coming school year that holds students accountable for anything they post on a social networking site, forum, text etc., even if posted from home or private computer.
“The safety of our students and the security of our students is our first concern,” said Teresa Wippel with Seattle Public Schools, and adds that the Seattle School Board voted to approve the measure so schools can respond to kids who may be planning something on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or by texting that will be “disruptive”, according to a Komo News report.
At issue is what is defined as disruptive?
When Komo interviewed Wippel, she said, for example, a threat to fight another student after school, or bullying another student would be considered disruptive. When asked “But what if it’s a student saying something negative about a teacher? Is that free speech or is that disruptive?” Wipple responded “I think, again, that would be up to the principal to decide after he’s taken a look.”
The accountability policy won’t involve actively monitoring sites such as MySpace and Facebook according to district representatives. Instead, the policy is to prompt an investigation when a parent or student notifies the school or district that someone wrote something online that could be disruptive.
It’s easy to understand the intent of this policy, but there are troubling issues that need to be resolved to ensure that the intent and the reality are aligned, that privacy is maintained and that the policy remains within the appropriate bounds of the law.
The ACLU says they are taking, hard look at the district’s new policy, and this is an issue worth following.