Use of Social Media, Internet Sites and Resources
The Smithfield School Committee recognizes that technological resources enhance staff and student performance by offering effective tools to assist in providing a quality instructional program and facilitating communications with parents/guardians, students and the community. Staff and students shall be responsible for the appropriate use of technology both when the technology tools are provided by the district and when any use of technology interacts with students, parents and other staff members.
The District encourages the proper and lawful use of social media and the Internet and establishes the guidelines, below, pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, for the use of such resources:
- Social media may be used by students for educational purposes at the discretion of the district. Student use of social media must comply with all state and federal student privacy laws (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) & Rhode Island Educational Records Bill of Rights Act (R.I.G.L. 16-71-1, et seq.) Access to Public Records Act (R.I.G.L. 38-2-2) ).
- The District shall not require, coerce or request a student or prospective student to disclose the password or any other means for accessing a social media account, or require, coerce or request that they access said account in the presence of a District employee or representative.
- The District shall not require or coerce a student or prospective student to divulge any personal social media account information.
- The District shall not compel a student or applicant, as a condition of acceptance or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities, to add anyone, including a coach, teacher, school administrator, or other school employee or school volunteer to his/her list of contacts associated with a personal social media account or require, request or cause a student applicant to alter settings that affect a third party’s ability to view the contents of a social media account.
- The District shall not discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize a student for his or her refusal to provide access to add a coach, teacher, administrator or other volunteer to his/her list of contacts associated with a personal social media account or to alter the settings on his or her social media account.
- Smithfield Public Schools recognizes the first amendment rights of its students but cautions that the use of any publication, electronic or otherwise, that indicates a violation of the Smithfield Public Schools Bullying Policy (JICK-C) will be investigated and enforced.
Social Media & Internet Site Use by Students & Staff for District Purposes
- Staff & students using official sites and social media properties of the Smithfield School District should understand these sites and properties reflect the brand and mission of the District.
- Social media may be used by staff & students in conjunction with approved activity clubs, sports or organizations with supervision by the authorized advisor, coach or volunteer. The use of social media in this manner should be representative of the club, sport or organization’s prime mission and not for any personal, professional or political use. Staff and student use of social media must comply with all state and federal student privacy laws.
- Staff may use social media for District purposes at the discretion of the Superintendent and the Director of Technology. Staff may be assigned to operate and manage social media and other websites at the direction of the central office administration (defined as the District Administrative Management team) and staff may be instructed to post, edit and update both social media and Internet site material at the discretion of their school administrator as part of their regular duties.
- Requests not to photograph or film specific students will be honored. Those posting to official sites and social media must refer to the photo release consent forms prior to posting images that include students.
- Staff understand their posts, updates and edits on official sites and social media represent the views, rules and policies of the Smithfield Public School district and that any and all materials are subject to review, editing and possible removal should they not conform to the District brand and messaging.
- Staff should not use personal social accounts or personal devices (phones, laptops or other mobile devices) to contact or communicate regularly with students, parents or the community directly. Staff should use sanctioned social media properties, websites and district devices to maintain contact and communications with said groups. “Friending, linking or liking and or other social mores” of personal pages, profiles and or other social properties or sites of students not operated as a part of the staff or student’s role in the District, is strongly discouraged.
- Social media properties and capabilities change on a regular basis and this policy is meant as a general guideline for present and future properties and actions by both staff and students.
Use of Personal (not District-Authorized) Social Media and Internet Sites by Staff
- Staff members shall not accept or initiate friend requests with current Smithfield students on personal social or networking sites.
- Staff members shall not post confidential information about students, staff or district business.
- This policy in no way restricts or infringes on the rights of individuals to create, post, edit or publish in personal social media properties or Internet sites, subject to any policies or agreements the staff members have signed or agreed to regarding behavior or activity in the workplace.
- While staff members have a right to free expression, they are asked to consider more effective means of dialogue before using networking sites to publicly criticize school policies or personnel.
- Staff may not use work hours or time to create, post, edit or publish on personal social media properties or Internet sites. Posting to authorized properties or sites is appropriate during the workday.
- Smithfield Public Schools recognizes the first amendment rights of its employees but cautions that the use of any publication, electronic or otherwise, that indicates a violation of the Smithfield Public Schools Bullying Policy (JICK-C) will be investigated and enforced.
- Staff use of District equipment for the creation, posting, editing and publishing of personal social media and or Internet sites is discouraged and subject to the agreement entered into by the staff member in the Acceptable Use Policy (IJNDC).
- As a general rule, staff should not say or do anything that they would not say or do as a teacher in the classroom or as a staff member performing his or her duties.
Legal References & Glossary of Terms
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
COPPA: The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
Rhode Island Educational Records Bill of Rights Act (R.I.G.L. 16-71-1, et seq.)
APRA: Access to Public Records Act (R.I.G.L. 38-2-2)
PII: Personally Identifiable Information - information about a student or staff member that can with relative ease allow a third party to determine their identity.
ADOPTED: May 6, 2019