Schools react to Wisconsin district’s social media policy

Policy limits use of Facebook.

A Wisconsin school district is taking a different approach to how teachers manage social media accounts with their students.

The Portage School District now bans teachers from using their personal social media accounts to interact with students.

Instead, teachers must use a public page to communicate with their class.

In the digital age, using Facebook and Twitter are essential tools in teaching.

“It’s a good way to remind them they’ve got practice, don’t forget this color uniform,” said Kevin Cardille, superintendent at La Crescent-Hokah School District.

But using a teacher’s personal account in that task isn’t something local schools feel is necessary.

“You might be doing things that are innocent and putting that out there, and the next thing you know, somebody finds it offensive or whatever it might be, and you don’t have control over that, the next thing you know, you’ve got a big problem,” Cardille said.

At La Crescent, there is no set policy in place with regards to using a teacher’s personal social media account, but the school’s policy does state that excessive informal and social involvement with students is unprofessional.

“We have 1-1 devices here, so emails are just easy and more appropriate probably than social media,” Cardille said.

The Portage School District, which enacted the policy recently, said they are transitioning into a nationally based policy for their school, and creating a consistent social media policy was key.

“Because in our school district we do use so much social media to communicate events, celebrations, highlight student achievements, the board wanted to establish some clarity and direction on how we do this on a consistent basis,” said Charles Poches, superintendent at the Portage School District.

The school said there hasn’t been a problem with social media accounts, but this policy puts all of the district’s information on social media out in the public.

“To deviate away from individual private ones because it becomes a limiting factor,” Poches said.

La Crescent said social media isn’t going away, and if teachers do want to use social media, make sure it’s in a public setting.

“Be careful what you’re doing,” Cardille said.

La Crescent’s said they are considering adding more language to the handbook with regards to social media.

It would advise staff to not “friend” a student or former student on Facebook until the student is at least 25 years of age.

Both Onalaska and Holmen School Districts said they have no set social media policy, either.

They do remind staff to use their best judgement on social media.