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Glenbard Township High School District 87
Administrative Procedure 9:010-R2

General Personnel

Administrative Procedure – Expectations for Communicating Electronically with Students

Glenbard Township High School District 87 recognizes that today's students are deeply engaged in electronic forms of communication for their daily interactions with friends, family and their larger social networks. As educators, we too have turned to email, websites, blogs, text messaging, and use of social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and others to communicate with similar groups. Whereas these forms of communication are dynamic, mobile, and quickly reach their audience through technologies that have become an integral part of our online lives, they may, in many circumstances, not meet the public and professional standards for communication with students that we set for ourselves here in District 87.

The expectations outlined in this document are designed for the purpose of:

1.  Protecting the students, staff, and the District:

2.  Raising awareness of acceptable ways to use electronic communication tools when communicating with students; and

3.  Raising awareness of the positive and negative outcomes that may result in using these tools with students.

The following is a set of expectations that all members of the District 87 professional community are expected to adhere to when communicating with students electronically.

Does the communication pass the TAP Test?

Electronic communication with students should always be Transparent, Accessible and Professional as defined below:

1.  The communication is transparent - ALL electronic communication between staff and students should be transparent. As a public school district, we are expected to maintain openness, visibility and accountability with regards to all communications.

2.  The communication is accessible - ALL electronic communication between staff and students should be considered a matter of record, part of the district archives, and/or may be accessible by others as defined by the Illinois School Student Records Act (105 ILCS 10/2) and the Illinois State Board of Education rules (23 Ill.Admin.Code §375.10).

3.  The communication is professional - ALL electronic communication from staff to students should be written as a professional representing District 87. this includes word choices, tone, grammar and subject matter that model the standards and integrity of a District 87 professional. Always choose words that are courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike in manner.

If your communication meets all three of the criteria above, then it is very likely that the methods of communicating with students that you are choosing are very appropriate; moreover, encouraged.

Acceptable Communications Methods

PowerSchool - With this information system teachers are able to communicate with students and parents regarding information related to grades, attendance, assignments, using comments directly from their grade books.

District 87 Email (FirstClass) - Use of District email is an appropriate way to communicate directly with students and parents. District email provides all staff members accounts that archive records of the communication. For this reason, only the District-provided email system (FirstClass account) should be used for corresponding with parents, students, and/or community members for any work related messages. Please refer to policy 9:010, Acceptable Use of Technology and corresponding procedures.

School Websites and Online Services for Teachers - The use of these District proved tools is strongly encouraged. Their accessibility is ubiquitous and their content is highly transparent. With many online services (such as Moodle, Twitter, etc.), teachers can provide some of the same types of communication that commercial social media websites provide while also providing access to curriculum beyond the classroom walls. Online teacher services may allow for effective online learning by supporting online discussions, secure chat rooms, online delivery of assessments, and the sharing of documents, images and other media, all in a secure environment housed entirely on District equipment.

Less Acceptable Communication Methods

Text Messaging - It is common for students to have a cell phone today and use of text messaging is rising sharply. This form of communication is typically between individuals and highly personal. Since texting is such a quick and convenient way of communication, a simple message may lead to an extended texting conversation that can get "off topic". Staff members should be aware that text messaging between a staff member and an individual student or parent can easily be misinterpreted. If a teacher/coach/sponsor plans to use texting for immediate and urgent contact with students/team members, they must be transparent about such use. He/she must make parents aware at the beginning of the school year or season that he/she may use texting. It is also recommended that these text messages are saved for reference.

Unacceptable Communication Methods

Non-District Email Accounts - District 87 employees should never use personal email accounts to communicate with students or parents about school matters. Coaches and sponsors not employed by District 87 during the school year must also follow this expectation and can request a District 87 email account if they choose to use this form of communication with students and parents.

Online Games and Alternative Communications - While many people enjoy a variety of gaming systems (Wii, Xbox, etc.) and recreational websites that allow them to compete with others through the internet, and/or alternative communication methods (Skype, Instant Messaging, iChat) these are not acceptable activities for staff members to engage in with students or parents.

Using Facebook

How about setting up a Facebook Fan Page for my student groups?

A Facebook Fan Page, not a Facebook Group, can be appropriate as a supplemental method of communicating electronically with student groups if it is set up correctly. Unlike Facebook groups, fan pages are visible to unregistered students and parents and thus indexed and easier to find. Be sure to follow the same District guidelines for publishing content to any website, in that photos of students are not posted in conjunction with their names or other personally identifiable information. Use your FirstClass email address to register as contact for the page so that any feedback or comments on the page are sent to the District, not to any personal email address.

If you decide to establish a fan page, you must notify your department chair, the Assistant Principal for Athletics or the Assistant Principal for Student Services and the parents of your students that you'll be using this site to communicate information for your group in addition to your other methods (websites, email, formal letters, etc) and that these pages may contain commercial advertising that is not endorsed by the District. Since not every student has a Facebook page or even access to Facebook, you must consider this when posting to your page. District 87 cannot require students to have Facebook accounts, as this should be a family decision. therefore, you must make any information posted on Facebook accessible to non-Facebook users by alternate means.

Important reminders for employees who use any Social Media Sites for Personal Purposes

Staff members who are presently using any social media sites to communicate with friends, family, and their personal networks, should ensure that their privacy settings are set to "Only Friends". If the "Friends of Friends"  or "Networks and Friends" settings are used, staff members open their content to a much larger group of people, including students and parents. Staff members should never "friend" students who are currently enrolled in District 87, nor should you accept their "friend requests". The wall between their role of a public educator and personal friendships with students should always be visible and strongly communicated.

Any content staff members publish, pictures they post, or dialogue they maintain, whether in Facebook, Twitter, a blog, a discussion thread or any other website, should never compromise the professionalism, integrity and ethics in their role as a District 87 professional. A good questions that staff members should ask themselves before posting or sending any message is, "Would I mind if that information appeared on the front page of the local newspaper?" If the answer is "yes", then do not send/post it. Contrary to what some people think, email, texts and social networking sites are very public places.

Staff members should contact their building principal, or Director of Technology Services with any questions.

CROFF REF.:  5:120 Ethics
                        7:310 Publications
                        7:340 School Student Records
                        9:010 Acceptable Use of Technology

REVIEWED:     February 11, 2013

ADOPTED:      February 25, 2013

REVIEWED:    May 5, 2014

REVISED:       June 16, 2014