Adopted: July 12, 2010
430 EMPLOYEE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
As a leader in using technology as an accelerator of learning, the Glencoe-Silver Lake
School District recognizes the value of teacher inquiry, investigation, and innovation
using new technology tools to enhance the learning experience. The District also
recognizes its obligation to teach and ensure responsible and safe use of these
This policy addresses employees’ use of publicly available social media networks
including: personal web sites, web logs (blogs), wikis, social networks, online forums,
virtual worlds, and any other social media. The District takes no position on employees’
decision to participate in the use of social media networks for personal use on personal
time. However, use of these media for personal use during District time or on District
equipment is prohibited. In addition, employees must avoid posting any information or
engaging in communications that violate state or federal laws or District policies.
II. GENERAL STATEMENT OF POLICY
The District recognizes the importance of online social media networks as a
communication and e-learning tool. Toward that end, the District provides passwordprotected social media tools and District-approved technologies for e-learning and
encourages use of District tools for collaboration by employees. However, public social
media networks, outside of those sponsored by the District, may not be used for
classroom instruction or school-sponsored activities without the prior authorization of the
Superintendent, or designee, and parental consent for student participation on social
networks. The District may use these tools and other communication technologies in
fulfilling its responsibility for effectively communicating with the general public.
However, employees must avoid posting any information or engaging in communications
that violate state or federal laws or District policies.
The line between professional and personal relationships is blurred within a social media
context. When employees choose to join or engage with District students, families, or
fellow employees in a social media context that exists outside those approved by the
District, they are advised to maintain their professionalism as District employees and
have responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these networks,
including requirements for mandated reporting.
A. Public social media networks are defined to include: web sites, web logs (blogs),
wikis, social networks, online forums, virtual worlds, and any other social media
generally available to the public or consumers and which do not fall within the
District’s electronic technologies network (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, blog sites, etc.).
B. District approved password-protected social media tools are those that fall within
the District’s electronic technologies network or which the District has approved
for educational use. The District has greater authority and responsibility to protect
minors from inappropriate content and can limit public access within this limited
All employees are expected to serve as positive ambassadors for our schools and to
remember they are role models to students in this community. Because readers of social
media networks may view the employee as a representative of the schools and the
District, the District requires employees to observe the following rules when referring to
the District, its schools, students, programs, activities, employees, volunteers and
communities on any social media networks:
A. An employee’s use of any social media network and an employee’s postings,
displays, or communications on any social media network must comply with all
state and federal laws and any applicable District policies.
Employees must be respectful and professional in all communications (by word,
image or other means). Employees shall not use obscene, profane or vulgar
language on any social media network or engage in communications or conduct
that is harassing, threatening, bullying, libelous, or defamatory or that discusses or
encourages any illegal activity or the inappropriate use of alcohol, use of illegal
drugs, sexual behavior, sexual harassment, or bullying.
Employees should not use their District e-mail address for communications on
public social media networks that have not been approved by the District.
Employees must make clear that any views expressed are the employee’s alone
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the District. Employees may not act as
a spokesperson for the District or post comments as a representative of the
District, except as authorized by the Superintendent or the Superintendent’s
When authorized as a spokesperson for the District, employees must disclose their
employment relationship with the District.
Employees may not disclose information on any social media network that is
confidential or proprietary to the District, its students, or employees or that is
protected by data privacy laws.
Employees may not use or post the District logo (defined as the GSL panther
logo) on any social media network without permission from the Superintendent,
- Employees may not post images on any social media network of
coworkers without the coworkers’ consent.
- Employees may not post images of students on any social media network
without written parental consent, except for images of students taken in
the public arena, such as at sporting events or fine arts public
- Employees may not post any nonpublic images of the District premises
and property, including floor plans.
B. The District recognizes that student groups or members of the public may create
social media representing students or groups within the District. When employees,
including coaches/advisors, choose to join or engage with these social networking
groups, they do so as an employee of the District. Employees have responsibility
for maintaining appropriate employee-student relationships at all times and have
responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these networks.
This includes acting to protect the safety of minors online. Employees shall
annually disclose to the District the existence of and their participation in such
C. Employees who participate in social media networks may decide to include
information about their work with the District as part of their personal profile, as
it would relate to a typical social conversation. This may include:
- Work information included in a personal profile, to include District name,
job title, and job duties.
- Status updates regarding an employee’s own job promotion.
- Personal participation in District-sponsored events, including volunteer
D. An employee who is responsible for a social media network posting that fails to
comply with the rules and guidelines set forth in this policy may be subject to
discipline, up to and including termination. Employees will be held responsible
for the disclosure, whether purposeful or inadvertent, of confidential or private
information, information that violates the privacy rights or other rights of a third
party, or the content of anything posted on any social media network.
E. Anything posted on an employee’s web site or web log or other Internet content
for which the employee is responsible will be subject to all District policies, rules,
regulations, and guidelines. The District is free to view and monitor an
employee’s web site or web log at any time without consent or previous approval.
Where applicable, employees may be asked to disclose to the District the
existence of and to provide the District with access to an employee’s web site or
web log or other personal social media network as part of an employment
selection, promotion, or disciplinary process.
GUIDELINES FOR POLICY #430: SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS
These are the guidelines for social media in the Glencoe-Silver Lake School District. If you’re an
employee contributing to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of social
media – both on and off the District network – these guidelines are for you. We expect all who
participate in social media to understand and follow these guidelines. Failure to do so could put
you at risk. These guidelines will continually evolve as new technologies and social networking
tools emerge so check back once in awhile to make sure you’re up to date.
It’s your responsibility. What you write is ultimately your responsibility. If it seems
inappropriate, use caution. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest
bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit “send.” Take time to review these guidelines and try
to figure out what’s bothering you and fix it. If you’re still unsure, you might want to discuss it
with your supervisor. Ultimately, what you publish is your responsibility. What you publish is
widely accessible and will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully.
Trademark, copyright, and fair use requirements must be respected.
Ensure the safety of students. When employees, especially coaches/advisors, choose to join or
engage with these social networking groups, they do so as an employee of the District and have
responsibility for monitoring content and addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these
networks. This includes acting to protect the safety of minors online. Employees shall annually
disclose to their supervisor the existence and participation in such networks.
Be transparent. Your honesty – or dishonesty – will be quickly noticed in the social media
environment. If you are posting about your work, use your real name and identify your
employment relationship with the District. Be clear about your role; if you have a vested interest
in something you are discussing, be the first to point it out. If you publish to a site outside the
District’s network, please use a disclaimer to state in clear terms that the views expressed are the
employee’s alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of the Glencoe-Silver Lake
Protect confidential information. Be thoughtful about what you publish. You must make sure you
do not disclose or use confidential information. Students, parents, and colleagues should not be
cited or obviously referenced without their approval. For example, ask permission before posting
someone’s picture in a social network (student photos require parental consent) or publishing a
conversation that was meant to be private.
It is acceptable to discuss general details about projects, lessons, or events and to use nonidentifying pseudonyms for an individual (e.g., Teacher A) so long as the information provided
does not make it easy for someone to identify the individual or violate any privacy laws.
Furthermore, public social networking sites are not the place to conduct school business with
students or parents.
Respect your audience and your coworkers. Always express ideas and opinions in a respectful
manner. Make sure your communications are in good taste. Do not denigrate or insult others,
including other schools or competitors. Remember that our communities reflect a diverse set of
customs, values and points of view. Be respectful. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic
slurs, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that
may be considered objectionable or inflammatory. Be sensitive about linking to content.
Redirecting to another site may imply an endorsement of its content.
Perception can be reality. In online networks, the lines between public and private, personal and
professional are blurred. Just by identifying yourself as a District employee, you are creating
perceptions about your expertise and about the District by community members, parents,
students, and the general public; and you are creating perceptions about yourself with your
colleagues and managers. If you choose to join or engage with District students and families in a
social media context, do so in a professional manner, ever mindful that in the minds of students,
families, colleagues and the public, you are a District employee. Be sure that all content
associated with you is consistent with your work and with the District’s beliefs and professional
Are you adding value? There are millions of words out there. The best way to get yours read is to
write things that people will value. Communication associated with our District should help
fellow educators, parents, students, and coworkers. It should be thought-provoking and build a
sense of community. If it helps people improve knowledge or skills, do their jobs, solve
problems, or understand education better – then it’s adding value.
Keep your cool. One of the aims of social media is to create dialogue, and people will not always
agree on an issue. When confronted with a difference of opinion, stay cool. If you make an error,
be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. Express your points in a clear, logical way.
Don’t pick fights, and correct mistakes when needed. Sometimes, it’s best to ignore a comment
and not give it credibility by acknowledging it with a response.
Be careful with personal information. Make full use of privacy settings. Know how to disable
anonymous postings and use moderating tools on your social media site(s). Astute criminals can
piece together information you provide on different sites and then use it to impersonate you or
someone you know, or even reset your passwords.
Be a positive role model. The line between professional and personal relationships is blurred
within a social media context. Educational employees have a responsibility to maintain
appropriate employee-student relationships, whether on or off duty. Both case law and public
expectations hold educational employees to a higher standard of conduct than the general public.
Don’t forget your day job. You should make sure that your online activities do not interfere with
your job. Remember that District technologies are provided for educational use. Use of social
media for personal use during District time or on District equipment is prohibited.
Citing Sources. Information for this policy was used with permission from the Minnetonka
School District. The published policies and guidelines of IBM, Intel and Kodak, provided the
foundation for these guidelines, which were adapted for an educational organization.
Cyber Law: Maximizing Safety and Minimizing Risk in Classrooms; A. Bissonette, J.D. Corwin Press,