The Wake County school system is staying away from any policy that might ban selfies, but the district may go after student and staff websites and social media accounts that are considered too disruptive.
School board members had raised concerns in November when a proposed update to the district’s technology policy included wording that could have banned students from taking pictures of themselves and others in school without a teacher’s permission. That wording does not appear in the version backed by the school board’s policy committee on Tuesday.
School administrators said they wanted the policy’s wording to be more positive and have less of the “thou shalt not” language of the November version. The new version says students are to use technology in a way that is “ethical, respectful, academically honest, and supportive of student learning.”
“We really want to focus on what can be done, rather than what can’t be done, and talk about how student use should be done responsibly,” said Marlo Gaddis, Wake’s senior director of instructional technology and media services.
Board members were happier with the new wording.
“You can’t position yourself as being innovative by talking about what you can’t do,” said school board member Jim Martin, chair of the policy committee.
Administrators say district policy should be updated to reflect the way technology is used today, compared to practices when the wording was last revised in 2010. This includes acknowledging that students are allowed to bring their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for use in class.
The latest version of the policy closely mirrors wording suggested by the N.C. School Boards Association. The version with the contested wording about pictures had been developed by one of the board’s attorneys.
Administrators said they also took the School Boards Association’s wording: “The superintendent may use any means available to request the removal of personal websites that substantially disrupt the school environment or that utilize school system or individual school names, logos, or trademarks without permission.”
The policy also warns that students may be disciplined if their online behavior during non-school hours “has a direct and immediate effect on school safety or maintaining order and discipline in the schools.”
The policy would cover social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, maintained by staff as well as students.
Todd Wirt, Wake’s assistant superintendent for academics, said they wanted to be able to react in case they find something that is disruptive to student learning.
Also as part of the new policy, parents would need to give permission for their children to use school technology. Previously, consent was assumed unless the parent opted out.
Hui: 919-829-4534; Twitter: @nckhui