POLICY #4218
 
NORWICH FREE ACADEMY
SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICY
 
The Norwich Free Academy (“Academy”) recognizes the importance of social media for its employees and acknowledges that in certain circumstances its employees have the right under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to speak out on matters of public concern. However, the Academy will regulate the use of social media by employees, including employees’ personal use of social media, when such use:
 
(1)     interferes with the work of the Academy;
(2)     is used to harass co-workers or other members of the Academy community;
(3)     creates a hostile work environment;
(4)     breaches confidentiality obligations of Academy employees,
(5)     disrupts the work of the Academy;
(6)     harms the goodwill and reputation of the Academy in the community; or,
(7)     violates the law, Academy policies, and/or other school rules and regulations.
 
The Academy therefore adopts the following guidelines for the use of social media by Academy employees.
 
Definitions:
 
Social media includes, but is not limited to, social networking sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and MySpace.
 
Norwich Free Academy includes all names, logos, buildings, images and entities under the authority of the Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees and Norwich Free Academy.
 
Rules Concerning Personal Social Media Activity
 
1.   An employee may not mention, discuss or reference the Academy, its programs, or teams on personal social networking sites, unless the employee also states that the post is the personal communication of the employee and that the views posted are the employee’s alone and do not represent the views of the Academy.
 
2.   Employees must refrain from mentioning other Academy employees or other members of the school community (e.g., parents or others) on personal social networking sites, without such individuals’ express consent unless the employee is addressing an issue of public concern and the employee’s speech falls under applicable constitutional protections pertaining to same.
 
3.   Employees are required to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with students, parents, and colleagues. For example, it is not appropriate for a teacher or administrator to “friend” a student or otherwise establish special relationships with selected students through personal social media, and it is not appropriate for an employee to give students access to personal postings unrelated to school.
 
4.   An employee may not use the logos or trademarks of the Academy on their personal social media posts unless the employee receives prior written consent from the Academy’s Board of Trustees or its designee. Please note that this prohibition extends to the use of logos or trademarks associated with the Academy and any of its programs or teams.
 
5.   Employees are required to use appropriately respectful speech in their personal social media posts; and to refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications. Such posts can reflect poorly on the reputation of the Academy, can affect the educational process and may substantially and materially interfere with an employee’s ability to fulfill his/her professional responsibilities.
 
6.   Employees are individually responsible for their personal posts on social media. Employees may be sued by other employees, parents or others, and any individual that views an employee’s social media posts as defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous or creating a hostile work environment. As such activities are outside the scope of employment, employees may be personally liable for such claims.
 
7.   Employees are required to comply with all Academy policies and procedures, including the acceptable use policy, with respect to the use of computer equipment, networks or electronic devices when accessing social media sites. Any access to personal social media activities while on Academy property or using Academy equipment must comply with those policies, and may not interfere with an employee’s duties at work.
 
8.  The Academy reserves the right to monitor all employee use of Academy computers and other electronic devices, including employee blogging and social networking activity. An employee should have no expectation of personal privacy in any personal communication or post made through social media while using Academy computers, cellular telephones or other electronic data devices.
 
9.  All posts on personal social media must comply with Academy policies concerning confidentiality, including the confidentiality of student information. If an employee is unsure about the confidential nature of information the employee is considering posting, the employee shall consult with his/her supervisor prior to making the post.
 
10.  An employee may not link a personal social media site or webpage to the Academy’s website or the websites of the Academy’s programs or teams; or post the Academy’s material on a social media site or webpage without written permission of the Board of Trustees or its designee.
 
11.  All Academy policies that regulate off-duty conduct apply to social media activity including, but not limited to, policies related to public trust, illegal harassment, code of conduct, and protecting confidential information.
 
12.  If an employee seeks to use social media sites as an educational tool or in relation to extracurricular activities or programs of the Academy, the employee must seek and obtain the written permission of the Head of School prior to such use.
 
Disciplinary Consequences
 
Violation of this policy may lead to discipline, up to and including the termination of employment, consistent with state and federal law.
 
Rules Concerning Social Media Activity Sponsored by the Norwich Free Academy
 
1.  If an employee wishes to use Facebook or any other social media site to communicate meetings, activities, games, responsibilities, announcements etc., for a school-based club or a school-based activity or an official school-based organization, or an official sports team, the employee must also comply with the following rules:
 
a.  The employee must first request in writing and receive in writing permission from the Head of School to establish and operate an Academy-sponsored social media site.
b.  The employee must set up the social media site as a group list which will be "closed and moderated."
c.  Members will not be established as "friends," but as members of the group list.
d.  Anyone who has access to the communications conveyed through the site may only gain access by the permission of the employee (e.g. teacher, administrator, supervisor or coach). Persons desiring to access the page may join only after the employee invites them and allows them to join.
e.  Parents shall be permitted to access any site that their child has been invited to join.
f.   Access to the site may only be permitted for educational purposes related to the club, activity, organization or team.
g.  The employee responsible for the site will monitor it regularly.
h.  The employee’s supervisor shall be permitted access to any site established by the employee for a school-related purpose.
i.   Employees are required to maintain appropriate professional boundaries in the establishment and maintenance of all such Academy-sponsored social media activity.
 
2.   Employees are required to use appropriately respectful speech in their social media posts on Academy-sponsored sites; and to refrain from harassing, defamatory, abusive, discriminatory, threatening or other inappropriate communications.
 
3.   Employees are required to comply with all Academy policies and procedures and all applicable laws with respect to the use of computer equipment, networks or devices when accessing Academy-sponsored social media sites.
 
4.  The Academy reserves the right to monitor all employee use of Academy computers and other electronic devices, including employee blogging and social networking activity. An employee should have no expectation of personal privacy in any communication or post made through social media while using Academy computers, cellular telephones or other data devices.
 
5.  All posts on Academy-sponsored social media must comply with Board policies concerning confidentiality, including the confidentiality of student information. If an employee is unsure about the confidential nature of information the employee is considering posting, the employee shall consult with his/her supervisor prior to making the post.
 
6.   An employee may not link an Academy-sponsored social media site or webpage to any personal social media sites or sites not sponsored by the Academy.
 
7.   An employee may not use Academy-sponsored social media communications for private financial gain, political, commercial, advertisement, proselytizing, or solicitation purposes.
 
8.  An employee may not use Academy-sponsored social media communications in a manner that misrepresents personal views as those of the Academy or its programs, or in a manner that could be construed as such.
 
Disciplinary Consequences
 
Violation of this policy may lead to discipline, up to and including the termination of employment, consistent with state and federal law.
 
 
 
 
 
Policy Adopted:           May 21, 2011
  • #4218