Making Sense of Social Media: LAUSD's New Policy

Have you “liked” LAUSD on Facebook yet?  How about following @LAschools on Twitter?  The District supports continued “retweeting,” “sharing,” and “liking” to learn about what’s happening at schools, and to communicate with your school, your students, and your community.  Of course, with every new development in technology comes the possibility for a lot of good and harm, which is why LAUSD has a new Social Media Policy for all District employees.

“This will alert teachers and administrators about the proper procedures to follow when using social media for the safety of all of the students in the District,” said Assistant Superintendent of School Operations Earl Perkins.

Tom Waldman, the Director of the Office of Communications explained that with the endless possibilities of social media, “It’s critical now to set some rules in order to protect people’s privacy, reputations, and the image of the school district.”

It took department heads nine months to finalize a Social Media Policy that encompassed all critical areas of on-line communication.  The policy includes definitions of blogs, podcasts, social networking websites, tags, and even Wikis.   It also points out the importance of keeping personal social networking sites separate from any communication on behalf of the district.  For example, teachers shouldn’t allow students to see unprofessional off-duty pictures of them at a party.

The policy suggests when students request to “friend” staff, that they’re not accepted on personal sites, but redirected to a separate site set up specifically for interacting with students.  That ensures the conversations are focused on educational and school related activities.

Even with that in mind, LAUSD employees must be careful not to post student information online without the written and informed consent of that student’s parent or guardian and the principal.  It would violate school policy if a student’s private personnel record, grade, or attendance record got posted publicly.  Being aware of these guidelines might avoid a casual mistake such as posting, “Johnny, congratulations on moving your grade up to a B from a C!”  It would also avoid more critical violations like off duty relationships with students or becoming the victim of harassment by students or other staff.

Does this mean that the District is scanning Facebook sites on the watch for violations?  “Absolutely not.  This is not a case of big brother watching,” said Intervention Coordinator Holly Priebe-Diaz who helped write the new policy.  “These guidelines help staff take the precautions necessary to avoid crossing boundaries that could cause a problem at school, and compromise their careers.”  Priebe-Diaz further explains, “Social media is the wave of the future, and we want schools and teachers to embrace technology but in a responsible way that supports their position as role models and effective leaders to our students.”

We encourage you to click here to review the complete Social Media Policy. If you have any questions or comments communicate with us on Facebook/LosAngelesSchools, where we hope you’ll “like” us, and on Twitter @LASchools.  For a complete review of everything LAUSD go to our website.



By: Stephanie Abrams

Posted: April 10, 2012