District 220 sets social media guidelines

Updated 11/23/2010 4:43 PM

Barrington Unit District 220 has a new policy governing the proper use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and e-mail in communications between staff and students.

"We have a generation of students and a younger generation of staff that are very comfortable with social media," district spokesman Jeff Arnett said. "We don't want staff to be so comfortable with social media that they're not cognizant of a sense of responsibility and professional standards."


There are three basic requirements to the new policy, which lays out the expectation of proper behavior to safeguard the welfare of students and staff alike, Arnett said.

The first requirement is for faculty and staff to secure parental permission before any type of communication with a student via social media occurs.

The second requirement is for such communication to be via district-approved channels a Facebook, Twitter or e-mail account associated with District 220 rather than a private one.

Thirdly, the communication must be specifically on-topic to activities in the classroom or the extracurricular sport or program the staff member supervises.

With the general policy now approved by the board of education, administrative staff are working toward finalizing its procedures before the start of the second semester, Arnett said.

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The policy itself simply sets out expectations for behavior without spelling out consequences for breaching them, he added.

Such policies are beginning to proliferate among school districts just as the popularity of social media itself has spread, Arnett said. District 220 looked at other districts' policies as a guide, and has already received requests from yet other districts to see its own policy.

The Illinois State Board of Education is aware of the growth of social media policies, but hasn't specifically tracked them, spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.

Probably the closest thing to the new social media policies was the state board's 2009 requirement that school districts teach some form of Internet safety to students in grades 3 through 12, she said.