Social Media Guidelines
Educational professionals and employees of the District have a responsibility to maintain a professional public demeanor, including his or her online presence, even when not at work. Standard 10 of the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators clearly states that, "an educator shall demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards and preserves the dignity and integrity of the teaching profession."
As reported in the media, there have been several instances of educators demonstrating what has been determined as professional misconduct while engaging in inappropriate dialogue about their schools and/or students or posting pictures and videos of themselves while engaging in what is considered inappropriate activities.
The following guidelines are provided to help the District’s employees to effectively use these forums, protect personal and professional reputations and follow national, state and/or district laws, rules and policies. The guidelines are intended to provide direction for acceptable use of personal and or professional sites. It is important to remember to conduct oneself in an appropriate manner to avoid any unintended situations that could adversely affect the employee’s professional standing. These guidelines are not intended to restrict participation, but to provide protection for those engaging in online social media, nor are they inclusive of all inappropriate behaviors.
It is vital that when participating in social media in a professional capacity that employees are thoughtful before posting, and that they respect the community in which they are positing. Any information shared via social media sites regarding the District is considered public record, regardless of ownership of the equipment used to post. If social media is to be used as a form of communication with students and parents, parents should be notified. All ethical expectations for appropriate employee/student relationships must be followed.
- All electronic communication among staff, students, and parents should be transparent.
- All electronic communication among staff, students, and parents is a matter of public record and/or may be accessible by others.
- If social media is used as a form of communication with parents and students, please be mindful that it should be secondary and not the primary form of communication.
- All electronic communication must be done in a positive, respectful manner. This includes word choices, tone, grammar and subject matter that model the standards and integrity of a district professional.
- Always choose words that are courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike in manner. Please thoroughly proof the content before posting. Citizens expect that education employees set a good example when they write and speak in public.
- Always remember confidentiality. Do not discuss students or coworkers or publicly criticize school District policies or personnel.
- Always think before posting. If an employee is angry or passionate about a subject, it may not be the time to share thoughts in a post. Individuals should delay positing until they are calm and clear-headed. Posting negative comments while angry may put the employee’s effectiveness as an educator at risk.
- Employees should not use their personal devices to display instructional content. It is difficult to avoid accidental exposure to inappropriate material or photographs.
- Employees should be aware of all copyright laws when posting instructional content.
In online social media, the lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred. The inappropriate use of social media can place an educator's professional career at risk. Employees of the District are subject to the PSC Code of Conduct.
- Employees should not post on their personal social media accounts during official work hours.
- Employees should create a divide between personal and instructional sites.
- Employees should not post defamatory remarks, obscene language, sexually provocative photographs or anything emphasizing/supporting alcohol or drug use.
- Posting activities or conduct not consistent with the PSC Code of Ethics should be avoided.
- Employees should refrain from developing online connections and relationships with students. All ethical expectations for appropriate employee/student relationships must be followed.
- Employees do not have control of what others may post on social media sites; therefore, it is important to be aware that conduct in private life may affect your professional life. Employees should be vigilant about what others post about them. If necessary, employees should take steps to remove comments or pictures that may pose a risk.
- Employees should ensure that the settings on their social media accounts are as private as possible. Social media is NOT completely private. Internet search engines can find information years after it was originally posted. Comments can be forwarded or copied and archival systems save information, even if the material is deleted.
As ambassadors of the school district, employees must be mindful in their usage of social media and social networking, as these actions may have personal, professional, ethical and legal consequences not only for the employee but for colleagues, the District, and the community at-large.