That's the gist of proposed policies for the Toms River Regional school district that deal with staff use of social networking sites.
"I think the policy acts at least as a good beginning," Board President Ben Giovine said at the Sept. 17 meeting.
The policies - one for teaching staff, one for schools staff - are titled "Use of Social Networking Sites." Board members voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the policies last night.
"Staff members should exercise care in setting appropriate boundaries between their personal and public online behavior, understanding that what is private in the digital world often has the possibility of becoming public even without their knowledge or consent," the policy states.
The identical policies caution against "inappropriate" conduct, such as communications, publications using e-mails, text messaging, social networking sites, or electronic communication that is "directed and/or available to pupils or for public display or publications."
Toms River Education Association President Kathy Eagan said that teachers currently send e-mails or tweets dealing with assignments and class-related activities to students.
"There is no communication going back and forth," she said. "Just a straight text to students. They cannot respond to the text."
When using personal social networking sites, staff members should not disclose any confidential information about the district, individuals, organizations, pupils or their families, according to the policy.
Other policy requirements include:
• No posting any materials of a sexually graphic nature.
• Do not use social networking sites to post materials that promote violence.
• Avoid using school district title or making reference to the district in e-mails, postings, blogs and social networking sites, unless the communication is of an official nature and serves the district's mission.
Failure to adhere to the policies could result in dismissal.
"While the Board respects the right of staff members to use social networking sites, staff members should recognize they are held to a higher standard than the general public with regard to standards of conduct and ethics," the policies state.
One audience member asked during the public portion why the proposed policies don't include administrative staff.
"I agree with you that anyone who is employed by the Toms River school district should be following the same types of guidelines," Giovine said.