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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Keep it private: Manatee looks to control teachers' social media use



Once upon a time, when a teacher had a bad day at school, he or she would go home angry and gripe about those rotten kids and that darned principal to friends.

But these days, telling friends about a retched experience, or a partying great night, transcends the telephone lines and backyard fences. And when teachers post their tales on their Facebook pages, but don't manage who sees the content very well, school officials are hearing about it.

And not surprisingly, they don't like seeing Twitter messages about how teachers hate their students. Neither do parents particularly want to have their kids viewing MySpace pictures of their disheveled, drunken teachers.

All this in mind, the Manatee County school district has become the latest to push a new policy that would strictly govern the way their employees use social media — even in their off hours. The Herald-Tribune reports that the rules would include a ban on posting pictures or comments that cast the district in a "negative, scandalous or embarrassing light," and a prohibition on communicating with students on social media sites without 10-day advance permission from parents.

The Santa Rosa school district recently withdrew a social networking policy after a teacher sued, saying it violated her privacy.

It doesn't sound like anyone is saying teachers and other school employees don't have a right to a life. They just don't want to see it all splattered across the Internet. A combination of privacy settings and common sense would seem to prevail. Do the districts like Manatee have it right or wrong here?  

[Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 6:08am]


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