Do Area Schools Have Social Media Policies for Employees?
With the recent placing of two workers on administrative leave by the Prosser School District over social media posts, the question being raised by some is, 'do these districts have specific policies the employees must adhere to, perhaps as part of their contracts?' Are there 'rules' and regulations regarding social media and personal expression?
According to KNDU-TV, our news partner, there are some policies in place for area districts, while others don't have any at all.
Richland Schools expect their employees to conduct themselves, when not at work, in a manner that does not bring reproach to the district, violate district policies, or impair their ability to perform as district employees.
Prosser has an area in their policies that deal with social media. The same principles applied to in-person communication (between two people actually talking) must be applied to social media posts, including privacy, decorum and professionalism. It also says the line between personal and professional life must be clear at all times.
Kennewick does not have specific social media policies, but officials told KNDU the same policies regarding employees behavior also apply to social media situations.
Pasco specifically mentions social media, admitting workers do have 'personal communication' rights, but adding that anything a teacher or staff member does public or private can have an educational impact on the district.
West Valley (Yakima) does not have any school board policies related directly or indirectly towards social media.
The two Prosser staff were placed on leave after expressing certain opinions about the recent A Day Without Immigrants protest, and other related issues in general. In the case of Prosser, one would have to carefully read the district policy, then compare with the two staffer's posts to determine if their opinions violated the policy.
In one case, it appears the employee might have crossed the line referring to the number of students who were not at school during the protest last Thursday, however, the first person suspended didn't appear to make any direct reference to the district. They only strongly expressed their opinion.