New discussions focus on how school leaders conduct themselves on social media

A Georgia Education Department leader was fired recently for implying on Facebook that students in his state can’t perform as well as their peers in Finland because of their skin color. Incidents like this across the country have sparked a conversation about how education leaders should conduct themselves on social media.

“Social media has just brought to the forefront what people were able to keep secret in their homes until now,” said Todd Nesloney, principal at Webb Elementary in Navasota, Texas.

Words on social media expose who people really are, for better or for worse. At some level, this exposure can turn into a positive for the communities they serve because their bosses can take corrective action and others can see the consequences of posting unprofessional comments online.

“If people out themselves as intolerant, ignorant people on social media, I think it’s a good thing, and they shouldn’t be in those positions to begin with,” said Patrick Larkin, assistant superintendent for Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts.

Whether they realize it or not, educators set an example for students, who are watching what educators say on social media and elsewhere — which is why it’s important for education leaders to model positive interactions.

Next page: Remembering that everything is public