The Kern High School District wants to expand its online presence.
That means, for example, starting up new, official Facebook pages for its member schools.
If you browse the web, chances are you’ll find some pages on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter dedicated to various Kern high schools.
But, they aren’t as “official,” or in other words, “well-monitored,” as KHSD would like.
So, at a meeting Monday night, KHSD board members approved a new policy that will enable both the district and its member schools to create an official presence on social media sites.
But, that ability comes with restrictions.
Each site will have a designated purpose, and any student or faculty member who posts anything libelous, vulgar, or inappropriate will be subject to punishment.
A KHSD spokesperson said that punishment would vary on a case-by-case basis.
KHSD says the goal is to create a safe, respectable online presence for its schools, as desired by several of the district’s principals.
“Our principals have a very keen sense of what's going on out on their own campuses,” said Mike Zulfa, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction with KHSD. “And, when they see students and parents and others involved in social media, they being to wonder, where's our presence in this same area?"
The policy only sets the rules for what students and faculty can do on school-sponsored pages – not what they can do with personal Twitter handles or Facebook pages.
Some places, including New York City and Missouri, have attempted to make it a violation for teachers and students to communicate privately via their personal social media pages.
But, those laws have met First Amendment criticism. In fact, the Missouri law restricting communication between students and teachers on their personal pages was eventually repealed.
“This is to help us establish our own presence in that same forum. This policy does not go so far as to restrict First Amendment rights of students or teachers," said Zulfa.
KHSD is the largest school district in Kern County to adopt guidelines concerning social media use.