Cybertimes, June 16, 1999

School officials are treading lightly when it comes to placing images of their students on school web sites. With more schools publishing their own web pages, the issue has become an increasingly pressing concern for many administrators — and for parents who are nervous about information on their children being made available to the entire Internet via a school web site.

A school in Dover, N.J., recently came under scrutiny when it posted pictures of students without first obtaining permission from their parents. Some families have retained lawyers as the threat of litigation against the school district begins to form.

Here are three steps you can take to protect your interests as well as those of your students — while still being able to have a web site that shows off student accomplishments:

  1. Never post images of a student without first obtaining parental permission.

  2. Don’t fully identify students by name; omit names completely, or just use first names. Either way, still get parents’ permission first.

  3. If possible, avoid close-up images of individual students, use group shots, or render images slightly blurry.

While there are no documented cases of foul play stemming from student images on web sites, schools nonetheless must be careful to respect the safety and privacy of their students.