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Can I keep my Facebook account?


Lawyers are notorious for careful language and cautious answers. So I will carefully answer that, yes, you can keep your account and maintain your presence online. But I will also ask you to consider not only what you can do, but what you should do.

As a teacher you must comply with laws that make student records confidential. Your personal Facebook account is not the place to write about students or classroom work. Your school may have a web presence with pages for teachers to post assignments and exchange messages with students and parents about the classroom and school work. Your VEA/NEA UniServ Director can help you review the policies of your school board employer, and Association colleagues can offer suggestions on using the computer and web as teaching tools.

You started a Facebook account in college, but your life is different now. Many college students avoid 8 a.m. classes or run to lectures dressed in sweats. Now you report to school early dressed for your professional duties. Your life has changed, and your on-line presence should probably change, too.

You don't consider what you have posted racy. But racy or controversial is in the eye of the beholder. And the standards set for children are different than those for adults. You simply can't predict whether a student, or that student's younger sibling, or that student's parent, will see your page. Nor can you predict their reaction to pictures of you hoisting a can of beer, smoking a cigarette, wearing a T-shirt with a funny slogan, or posing with friends on the beach.

You have been warned about maintaining your on-line presence for many of the same reasons you are warned against driving students in your personal automobile, being alone with a single student, going out for social occasions with students or their parent/guardians, or inviting students and their parents/guardians to your home. If you would not allow students to follow you around or look through your windows, don't make it possible for them to follow or look at you online.


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