School employees: Careful when you post that item

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Austin School District employees may have to think twice about what they post to Facebook or other social media sites.

The district has a new policy, approved on Monday night by the school board, that says employees of the district need to present themselves as professionals, in school and out, on social sites.

“The line between professional and personal relationships is blurred within a social media context,” says the new policy.

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“When employees choose to join or engage with district students, families or fellow employees in a social media context that exists outside those approved by the district, they are advised to maintain their professionalism as district employees and have responsibility for addressing inappropriate behavior or activity on these networks, including requirements for mandated reporting.”

Supt. David Krenz did not refer to actions that might have prompted the policy.

Instead, he noted, “use of social media is a relatively new thing” in the technological world. That means a close look needs to be taken on its impact.

Public social media networks, outside of those sponsored by the district, cannot be used for classroom instruction or school-sponsored activities without prior authorization and employees must avoid posting any information or engaging in communications that violate state or federal laws or district policies, the new rule says. That includes blogs as well as public sites such as Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few.

Other information in the policy relates to images posted, inappropriate language or other demonstrations of bad behavior on a site.

Employees who don’t heed the policy could be disciplined or, in some cases, even terminated from their jobs.

In other business last evening, the board:

Tax abatement: Agreed to a tax abatement for Bigelow and Lennon Construction for twin homes being built on 28th Street Southwest. As owners, five years’ worth of property taxes on the improved land will be waived (“bare land” taxes will still be their responsibility). It was made clear that they will be the one to receive the abatement, not someone who might later purchase the homes.

Hires: Approved the hire of Katie Nagel as first grade teacher at Banfield Elementary School at a salary of $38,368.95; Cecil Addison, special education paraprofessional at $11.31 an hour; Lauren Cost, administrative assistant at the Community Learning Center for $15.22 an hour; Ryan Gallagher, mental health practitioner, $24.85 an hour; Heather Lemke, special education paraprofessionals. $11.32 an hour; Nicole Murphy, food service, $15.26 an hour; Madeline Reuter, food service, $15.26 an hour; Joan Thompson, food service, $15.26 an hour; and Jake Vela, success coach, $20.08 an hour.

Resignations: Approved the following resignations: Emily Lowell, school nurse; Sarafina Maric, food service; Bobbi Meador, special education paraprofessional; Penny Meyer, special Education paraprofessional; Sonja Pirmantgen, special education paraprofessional; Dean Rogers, sibling care assistant at the Community Learning Center; Amy Smith, Kids Korner assistant. She will remain as a paraprofessional; Rachel Weigel, general education paraprofessional.