Utah school district unveils new teacher web rules

The Granite, Utah, school district is considering a new social-networking policy that would forbid employees from fraternizing with students online, including being Facebook friends, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. But the new policy also would allow teachers and schools to create online forums to engage students for educational purposes. The rules would be among the first of their kind in Utah, where most school districts have relied on general guidelines that teachers act as role models and not have inappropriate contact with students. Carol Lear, a State Office of Education attorney and executive secretary of the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission, said developing a specific district policy on the use of social-networking tools is a “great idea.” “Teachers tend to want rules,” she said. “It will be helpful for teachers in the long run … There are lines they have to stay within if they want to be public school teachers.” Granite School District’s policy draws a line between using social media for an educational use or a personal use. If adopted, the policy would authorize school administrators to approve and observe school-related web forums that teachers wish to create. Only students who obtain written permission from a parent or guardian could participate or be identified in photos. Employees still could engage in personal, online social networking on their own time, but they would be forbidden from granting students access to their personal sites—unless the students are immediate family members…

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