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The school board clarified when and how staff and volunteers may use social media.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Salem’s school board set formal rules for staff use of social media and text messaging Tuesday night.
They also proposed two policies, clarifying that standards of conduct toward students and staff behavior generally apply to volunteers as well as paid staff.
The new rules say teachers, coaches and other staff need to tell supervisors and parents beforehand if they intend to use social media or text messaging, and detail how they plan to use them and how parents can see any communications.
The rules also say social media and text messaging can only be used to give multiple recipients information about school, athletic or extracurricular events, or to answer school-related questions. Secretive communication with individual students could be grounds for dismissal, director of secondary education Curtis Hicks told the board.
“This applies our standards to these new areas,” said school Superintendent Alan Seibert.
The rules were presented and the policy changes proposed after a school system administrative review launched in the wake of the March arrest of a former volleyball coach on charges of child pornography.
Dewayne Thomas Barger is accused of secretly recording videos of players changing clothes and bathing in his apartment.
Barger was a volunteer assistant coach for Salem High School’s volleyball team from 2006 to 2011. He was accused by a former Salem player of inappropriately texting her while he was her coach, several years before his arrest on child pornography charges.
The board adopted the rules and proposed a 30-day public comment period on the policy changes unanimously and without discussion.
The review said all coaches and adults overseeing extracurricular activities should be trained to recognize “grooming” — or trust-building — behaviors of child predators when they are targeting young people.
It also said the school system “should strive to ensure” that every team and extracurricular activity have at least one professional educator serving as a coach, sponsor or supervisor.
In its review, the school system said it handled a 2007 complaint about Barger properly by explaining appropriate supervision for youth.
The review recommended that the system’s standards governing communications with students apply to volunteers as well as to school system employees.
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