D.215 board reviews proposed social media, e-book changes in school policy

2014-02-02T00:00:00Z D.215 board reviews proposed social media, e-book changes in school policyGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 02, 2014 12:00 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | Students of the Thornton Fractional Township District 215 high schools could be required to provide school officials with passwords to their Facebook or other social networking site accounts, under school policy changes being considered.

The proposed changes were on the agenda for review when the School Board met Tuesday. No vote was actually taken, and final approval is likely to come when the School Board is scheduled to meet again Feb. 25, according to Finance Director Charles DiMartino.

Changes under review include permitting school officials to demand the personal passwords of District 215 students to accounts on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites in cases where officials can show a “just and reasonable cause” they would gain information related to violation of other school policies.

“Students have no reasonable expectation of privacy for content they post on public or semi-public profiles on the web,” the proposed school policy reads. It is an addition to the school policies that permit officials to search a student’s locker, desk or automobile they may have parked in a school lot.

The proposed policy says that threats of suicide or violence, bullying and harassment, weapons possession, or alcohol and/or drug use are among the types of things that school officials can search for on a student’s personal site.

The proposal also says that students can only use Facebook or other accounts at school during passing periods or lunch, unless it is part of a teacher-supervised activity in class. Students in violation will be disciplined, but the policy does not specify a punishment.

Among other changes being considered is to add electronic book readers to the list of items such as MP3 players, portable DVD players and cellular telephones that can only be used during passing periods between classes, during lunch periods or during class if part of an assignment.

Students violating the policy could have the devices confiscated, and repeat offenders could face a one-day suspension from school.

One other policy change being considered relates to when school officials can permit pesticides to be used at the high school properties.

Officials must provide at least a four-day warning to students and school employees, and must specify the exact date that the pesticides will be used. Notification must be in writing or by telephone, although it can be included in existing school publications such as newsletters, calendars or other currently existing correspondence.

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