In line with the signing into law of New Jersey Senate Bill S441 on April 29, 2014, that requires local school boards to have policies governing the use of social media communication between teachers and students, the Roselle Park School District (RPSD) will be updating policy 4119.24 “Staff Use Of Internet Social Networks And Other Forms Of Electronic Communication”. The Board Of Education (BOE) had the first reading of the policy this past Tuesday.
RPSD Policy 4119.24 was originally adopted in 2009 and then updated five months later. The new amended policy is based on a model policy distributed by the New Jersey School Board Association (NJSBA) and provides more detail on what is and is not considered acceptable use between school staff and students which includes prohibiting staff from ‘friending’ students or adding them to their social network. A few significant differences between the NJSBA model policy and the newly proposed RPSD updated policy is that the RPSD Policy 4119.24 does not include online education – such as online courses – and requires that any employee aware of any misuse of the email systems shall notify the supervisor for technology. The NJSBA model policy requires that the technology supervisor, principal, superintendent be notified. Additionally, RPSD Policy 4119.24 only allows communications between teachers/staff members and students by written consent of the School Superintendent or an appointed designee. The NJSBA policy leaves that authority with principals.
A new aspect of the policy states that orientation must be given every year to all school personnel on acceptable and unacceptable use of electronic communications. It also notifies personnel that there is no expectation of privacy when using “public social network websites, public social media venues, and public Internet websites” and that their communications and messages can be monitored.
A copy of proposed RPSD Policy 4119.24, NJSBA Model Policy, and the original RPSD Policy are available below. The BOE is scheduled to have a second reading at the June 24th meeting when it is expected to be approved and adopted.