4007 Social Media and Online Communication

  • Background

    The Board of Directors recognizes that the role of technology in the modern workplace is continually expanding and now includes social media and online communication tools that facilitate interactive information sharing and collaboration. These media sites are increasingly important outreach and communication tools for teachers and administrators.

    Social networking can improve communication between schools, staff, students, families and the community at-large, and often reaches new and different populations from traditional media. Social media and online communication tools may be used for many purposes in an educational environment; examples include quick dissemination of time-sensitive information (e.g., emergency information, travel disruptions or changes, or district facility closures) and marketing/promotion of events or programs to the widest possible audience or a targeted audience, such as students in a specific class or club.  Social media postings and online communication tools may include many different media formats, including written text, images, audio and video.

    Social media and online communication tools may include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, media sharing, virtual worlds, school and teacher websites and messaging platforms.


    The purpose of this policy is to establish standards and responsibilities for the use of social media and online communication tools by employees who represent the district, schools, school groups, teams or clubs, or individuals within schools or programs.


    All use of approved social media and online communication sites by schools and staff should be consistent with applicable state, federal and local laws, regulations and related district policies. These include information technology security policies; responsible use policies; the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); nondiscrimination policies; copyright and trademark laws; maintaining professional staff/student boundary policy, and applicable public records retention policies and schedules.

    Development of Procedures

    The Superintendent or designee shall develop procedures to ensure that approved social media and online communication sites are appropriately used, secured and managed. The procedures shall be designed to protect students, employees and the district, as well as ensure consistency across the district.

    Cross References:
    Policy 2021         Library Information and Technology Programs
    Policy 2022         Student Responsible Use Procedure
    Policy 2024         Online Learning
    Policy 2025         Copyright Compliance
    Policy 2331         Controversial Issues/Guest Speakers
    Policy 3200         Student Rights and Responsibilities
    Policy 3207         Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
    Policy 3220         Freedom of Expression
    Policy 3231         Student Records
    Policy 4020         Confidential Communication
    Policy 4040         Public Access to District Records
    Policy 5252         Staff Participation in Political Activities
    Policy 5253         Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries
    Policy 8410         Records Management and Retention

    Legal References:   
    Management Resources:
    Policy News, Date?         Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy
    Records Retention Schedule for School Districts and ESDs

    ADOPTED: 5/10/2018

    Procedure No. 4007 Social Media and Online Communication

    These guidelines are intended to support staff by clearly identifying the many factors and possible ramifications of using social media and online communication tools in a district-approved manner within district-approved platforms or spaces. These guidelines are in addition to, and complement, existing School Board policies.

    Before creating or using a social media or online communication site, a district employee must consider the following in determining whether the use of the tool is appropriate:

    1. Who is the target audience for communication?
    2. What information is the district, school, group or individual attempting to communicate?
    3. Which online media tool is the best to distribute the information?
    4. Who is responsible for managing and monitoring the social media or online communication tool/accounts?


    Employees should be thoughtful and professional about how they present the district, their school, school group, team or club, or individuals within schools or programs through the professional use of online media sites. Employees must consider these issues:

    1. Confidentiality.  Employees should not post or release proprietary, confidential or protected personally identifiable information, or district intellectual property on social media or online communication sites.
    2. Privacy.  As in other venues, employees must follow the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and must not post a student’s image (including photos and/or video) or other protected personally identifiable information if a student’s guardian has opted out of publication of student’s name or photo.
    3. Site Monitoring. Sites should be monitored for inappropriate posts or comments; such posts should be removed. Sites should be kept updated. If a site is abandoned, it should be taken down.

    Creating and Administering Accounts

    District employees wishing to create a social media or online communication sites representing the district, their school, school group, team or club, or individuals within schools or programs will request permission with building principal approval to the Communication Director.  The Communications Director will determine final approval. The Communications Director shall be given administrative rights and/or passwords to the site at the time of creation and reserves the right to remove inappropriate content or otherwise make necessary changes to the site.

    Approved social media or online communication site accounts will post the following notice:

    This is an official publication of Yelm Community Schools (YCS).  YCS reserves the right to monitor and remove posts or comments that violate Policy 4007P.

    Mitigation of Risks

    When creating social media or online communication site accounts that require individual identification, district employees must use their actual name, not pseudonyms, and district contact information.

    Students will not be given access to social media accounts to update or post any information representing the district.

    User-generated Content

    The district’s use of social media or online communication sites is limited to promoting the mission and goals of the district. While the district may choose to allow user-generated content on its social-media sites, by doing so the district does not intend to create an open public forum for speech. Nor does the district express approval or support for the views expressed by third-parties that appear on its social-media sites. The district reserves the right to remove inappropriate content or comments posted on district generated social media that are

    • Sexually suggestive, malicious, obscene, profane, threatening or intimidating
    • Constituting harassment or bullying
    • Supportive of illegal activity
    • Violating copyright or trademark laws
    • Information that may tend to compromise the safety or security of the public or public systems
    • Supports or opposes political candidates or ballot propositions
    • Promotes commercial services or products
    • Promotes, fosters, perpetuates discrimination, or contributes to a hostile education or work environment on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.

    The district will not, however, remove otherwise permissible comments based on the user’s viewpoint on a topic or issue raised by the district.

    ADOPTED:  5/10/2018