‘Social’-izing Safety Presentation on Superintendent’s Conference Day

‘Social’-izing Safety Presentation on Superintendent’s Conference Day
‘Social’-izing Safety Presentation on Superintendent’s Conference Day 2
‘Social’-izing Safety Presentation on Superintendent’s Conference Day 3
The district’s annual Superintendent’s Conference Day in September was highlighted by a safety presentation on social media and electronic communications by attorney Joseph Lilly of the firm Frazer & Feldman, Garden City, New York.

After providing some background on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and how education records include all information relating to a student, including printed and computer records such as teacher’s emails, Lilly went over the district’s computer usage, social media and internet policies, both during and outside work hours. He then delved into the basics of free speech in relation to teachers, using numerous well-known case law examples such as Monroe v. Central Bucks School District.

“It’s a serious subject,” Lilly told the district’s educators, noting their special position in society. “What you say on the internet can have lasting and serious repercussions. As a teacher who interacts with the public, because of that special position you hold, even when you express things on the internet that for another person might be protected by the Constitution, if your speech is disruptive to the operation of the school and its ability to provide an important service to the public, the courts say that the school district’s interest in providing that service is going to outweigh the teacher’s interest of expression.”

Lilly then suggested some best practices for district employee use of the internet and websites, and urged them to exercise a level of care in using social media, such as not commenting on or befriending students.

“These guidelines I’m giving you are to help you avoid anyone ever questioning your integrity or professionalism,” he said.