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5242 - Personal Electronic Devices And Social Media - Staff

Board Policy No. 5242


I.          Definitions

            1.   “Personal electronic device” – A device, not issued by the district, capable of electronically communicating, sending, receiving, storing, recording, reproducing, and/or displaying information and data.

            2.   “Confidential information” – Information that is not generally available to the public, including, but not limited to, information from student education records protected by FERPA, or information about administration’s internal decisions. This does not include information pertaining to wages, hours, terms or conditions of employment, and other subjects that are generally bargained for collectively.

            3.   "Material disruption in school activities" – Adverse actions that cause (or reasonably forecast the likelihood of causing) a threatened or actual substantial negative impact on the learning environment.

            4.   “On duty” – Contracted time when staff are performing professional duties under the terms of their employment (e.g. supervising students, educating, performing support duties).

            5.   “Contracted free time” – Contracted time when staff are present at their place of employment and observing allocated breaks and/or non-assigned supervision time (e.g. mid-shift breaks, lunch breaks, preparatory time, non-supervisory before and after school time).

II.        General Use on District Property

            Staff may possess and use personal electronic devices on district property, in district facilities, or while attending a district-sponsored activity, subject to the following limitations and consistent with any other rules as may be or as have been established.

            1.   Staff shall not use a personal electronic device in a manner that substantially interferes with their duty and responsibility to supervise students.

            2.   Staff shall silence personal electronic devices while on duty, when such device is not used for specific professional business.

            3.   Staff shall not use personal electronic devices to audio or video record students, unless there is a legitimate educational or disciplinary purpose.  If questions exist as to what is a legitimate educational or disciplinary purpose, staff should consult with an appropriate administrator.

            The district will not be liable for loss or damage to personal electronic devices brought to district property, district facilities, and district-sponsored activities.

            Staff are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for using a personal electronic device in any manner that is illegal or violates the terms of this policy. The taking, disseminating, transferring or sharing of obscene, pornographic or otherwise illegal images or photographs, whether by electronic data transfer or otherwise (commonly called sexting, etc.) may constitute a crime under state and/or federal law. Any person taking, disseminating, transferring or sharing obscene, pornographic or otherwise illegal images or photographs, while on duty or during contracted free time, will be reported to law enforcement and/or other appropriate state or federal agencies.

III.       Using Personal Electronic Devices to Access Social Media

            During contracted free time, staff may use their personal electronic devices to access personal social media websites, blogs, or other public websites. When on-duty, staff shall refrain from using their personal electronic devices to access such personal websites. If staff have a legitimate educational purpose for accessing such content, then they should use district-provided electronic devices. Whether staff access such websites on-duty or during contracted free time, staff shall not post or share confidential information.

            Staff members who post or share content on social media, while on-duty or during contracted free time, should treat fellow employees, stakeholders and students with respect.

            This policy is not intended to deprive any person of their right to freedom of expression. Disrespectful conduct does not include the expression of controversial or differing viewpoints that may be offensive to some persons, so long as such expression does not materially disrupt, and may not be reasonably anticipated to disrupt, the educational process.

IV.       Using Personal Electronic Devices for Labor Issues

            Staff have a right to address work-related issues and share information about pay, benefits, and working conditions with co-workers, a government agency, and a union, and may use social media to do so.  Such activity may not be protected if staff post or say things about the district or district employees that are knowingly and deliberately false, obscene, profane, discriminatory, or if they publicly disparage the district without relating the complaints to any labor controversy.

V.        Using Personal Electronic Devices to Communicate with Students

            Communication with students using personal electronic devices should be handled judiciously.  If necessary, such communication will be appropriate, professional, and serve a legitimate educational purpose.  If communicating with students electronically regarding school-related matters, staff should use district e-mail, attempt to communicate with groups of students rather than individual students, or utilize available applications that allow for appropriate and transparent communication (e.g. Remind, ClassPager).  Exceptions to these restrictions may be made for emergency reasons or based on professional judgement of staff.

The superintendent shall ensure that this policy is available to all employees.

Adopted:  August 15, 2017

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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