Fine Line for Teachers on Facebook

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To friend or not to friend, that is the question for educators in Stonington.

The school board is weighing a proposal that would adopt a social media policy that could dictate whether teachers and staff would be allowed to friend students on sites, including Facebook.

"Often times, there are things you read in the professional journals and such and social networking was a topic many of us were reading about," Stonington Supt. Leanne Masterjoseph said.

Originally, the board had looked at ideas that would prohibit teachers from "friending" students. After a meeting on Wednesday night, the school board’s policy committee looked to change its course.

"The committee is leaning more toward, what are the conversations students and teachers are having, what's the content of the conversation as opposed to where it takes place," Masterjoseph said.

The same conversation happening online could happen just as easily in a coffee shop, she said.

Some Connecticut school districts already have social media policies in place. West Hartford adopted one last year that limits what teachers and staff can post on Facebook and Twitter. In Windsor Locks, a Facebook posting cost the superintendent his job.

But some say, as long as a teacher keeps it professional, Facebook can be a useful tool.

"I think that if the teacher is mature enough to keep it like that, as well as the student, it should be fine," Stonington High graduate Chiara Longo said. "What if a student has a question on a homework assignment?"

If the board decides to go in the direction of adopting a social media policy, it likely would have to go before the public before it would be approved.

Right now, the decision on whether to add a social media policy or amend a current policy is still in the early stages.

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