Social Media Guidelines
Des Moines Public Schools recognizes the importance of social media as a means of communications. The District encourages the appropriate use of social media as a means to communicate, whether as an individual or as a school or District program, if such use is helpful in reaching our various constituencies.
The District acknowledges that its employees have the right under the First Amendment as private citizens to speak out on matters of public concern. However, the District has the right to regulate the speech of employees in specific circumstances. Accordingly, it is essential that employees conduct themselves in such a way that their personal and/or educational use of social media does not adversely affect their position with the District.
The purpose of these guidelines is to establish protocols for the use of social media by employees and to outline expectations for its use. Social media includes websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media and web 2.0 tools.
I. Expectations for all use of social media (personal and educational)
- DMPS employees’ behavior on social media should reflect the same standards of honesty, respect and consideration they are expected to adhere to in all forms of communications and interactions.
- Do not submit or post confidential or protected information about the District, its students, alumni, or employees. You should assume that most information about a student is protected from disclosure by both federal law (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and state law (Iowa Code Section 22.7(1). Disclosure of confidential or protected information may result in liability for invasion of privacy or defamation and result in disciplinary action up to, and including, discharge from employment.
- Report, as required by law, any information found on a social networking site that falls under the mandatory reporting guidelines.
- Do not use language that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary, or libelous, or that constitutes an incitement to imminent violence or a true threat.
- Do not post or otherwise publish content that is or could reasonably be perceived as bullying, discrimination, or harassment in violation of DMPS policy.
- Exercise caution with regards to exaggeration, colorful language, guesswork, copyrighted materials, legal conclusions, and derogatory remarks or characterizations.
- Consider whether a particular posting puts your professional reputation and effectiveness as a DMPS employee at risk.
- Be cautious of security risks when using third-party applications within a social media site.
- Run updated malware protection to avoid infections of spyware and adware that social media sites might place on your personal computer.
- Be alert to the possibility of phishing scams that arrive through a social media site.
II. Expectations for the personal use of social media
In addition to Section I, above, employees using social media for personal (non-District- related) purposes are expected to:
- Refrain from accepting current DMPS students as “friends” on personal social media sites.
- Be aware that people classified as “friends” have the ability to download and share your information with others.
- Remember that once something is posted to a social media site it may remain available online even if you think it is removed.
- Assume that anything you post to a personal social media site can be accessed by anyone and will be available forever.
- Sharing school or District social media posts to your personal social media page (i.e. retweeting a @DMSchools announcement to your personal Twitter page) is acceptable and encouraged if it is something of interest to you.
- Set and maintain appropriate social media privacy settings. Be aware that social media sites can change their privacy policies and standards at any time, possibly exposing posts that employees believed were private to the public.
- Avoid using a social media site to post content which may be considered defamatory or obscene, and do not post content which violates copyright or other intellectual property laws.
- Never use a social media site to post information about a DMPS student or employee in a way that is or could be reasonably perceived as discriminatory, harassing, or otherwise derogatory.
- Never use a social media site to post or otherwise publish confidential or protected information about the District, its students, or its employees. Disclosure of confidential or protected information may result in liability for invasion of privacy or defamation.
III. Expectations for the educational use of social media
In addition to Section I, above, employees using social media for educational (school or District-related) purposes are expected to:
- Comply with all District policies and state laws on the use of district-owned hardware, software and networks apply, as relevant, to the use of social media for a DMPS school, class or program.
- Notify your supervisor and the Office of Communications if you wish to establish a social media site for a school, class or program.
- If using Facebook, create an organization page for your school, class or program; do NOT use a personal Facebook page for school-related purposes (the Office of Communications can provide guidance on how to do this).
- Establish expectations for acceptable use on your social media site that are compliant with the District’s expectations for acceptable use (see example at end of document).
- Do not post anything on a school or District affiliated social media page that advocates for or against a political candidate or ballot initiative.
- Refrain from posting or otherwise publishing images that include students without parental release forms on file, which can be confirmed on Infinite Campus.
- Pay close attention to the site’s security settings and allow only approved participants access to the site.
- Remember that behavior inappropriate in school or the classroom should be considered inappropriate online.
- Seek consent before using the DMPS logo or school-specific logos or mascots. The use of the DMPS logo should be approved by the district’s Office of Communications. The use of a school’s logo or mascot should be approved by the principal or their designee.
Employees found to have engaged in inappropriate use of social media or other electronic communication may be subject to disciplinary action by the District, up to and including termination.
Establishing a school or District-related social media site
Anyone who wishes to establish a social media site for a DMPS office, school, class or program must first notify their supervisor and the Office of Communications. If you have questions on content you would like posted to the district’s social media pages please contact:
Acceptable Use Guideline Example
The following acceptable use guideline is posted to the school district’s Facebook page, and provides an example that can be adopted for other DMPS-related social media sites:
Des Moines Public Schools has created this Facebook page to serve as an additional means to share news, provide information, and facilitate communications within our school district community. We thank all of the Facebook users who “like” our page and contribute to our online community. Messages posted to this Facebook page do not necessarily represent the views of Des Moines Public Schools. Des Moines Public Schools reserves the right to remove comments and/or report users who post comments which, in the school district’s sole discretion, bully, intimidate, or harass any individual; contain obscenity, nudity or gratuitous violence; are commercial solicitations; are factually erroneous, libelous, or wildly off-topic; are from anonymous blog trolls; constitute incitement to violence or violation of law or District policy, or which constitute true threats; or that otherwise violate State law, school district policy, or the social media site’s own policies.