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Warren Township Board of Education Discusses Teacher/Student Social Media and Electronic Communication Policy

By BRENDA A. NEMCEK

August 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM

WARREN, NJ - At the last meeting of the Warren Township Board of Education, the first reading of an electronic communication policy addressing social media sites and electronic forms of communication was approved.
 
A law requiring schools to adopt an electronic communication policy was passed  in New Jersey on April 24, and school districts were given 120 days to establish their own policies.
 
School employees may not list current students as “friends” on networking sites without written approval of the school principal.
 
All electronic contacts with students should be through the district’s computer and telephone systems.
 
School employees will not give out their private cell phone or home phone numbers to students without prior approval of the principal.
 
All electronic contacts by coaches and extracurricular advisors with team members and members of extracurricular activities shall, as a general rule, be sent to all team members and activity participants.
 
According to the state law, coaches and extra curricular leaders can contact students if they contact the whole team or club as a group. 
 
Watchung Hills Regional High School has an electronic communication policy in place that bans coaches from contacting students individually that was approved earlier this year.
 
“I don’t think coaches should be texting kids. They should not be texting an individual kid ever,” said Superintendent Dr. Tami Crader.
 
“It is highly inappropriate for any adult to contact a child, and I think it is our job as a board to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said Board member Desiree DeNourie.
 
Board member James Sena asked,“I could see a time where a coach wants to say great game. If a person did this and it was a mistake, what would be the penalty?”
 
"There’s no reason for a child that I am coaching in the seventh or eighth grade, that I should have their personal email,” said Board member Len deMontagnac.
 
“Even though their rights are protected by the first amendment and they are not on our equipment, there is plenty of case law that supports termination of staff when their actions have created disruptions in schools or the educational experience of children,” said Superintendent Dr. Tami Crader.