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GENESEE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015 Facebook, Twitter, and Their Friends: Effectively Navigating Employee and Student.

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Presentation on theme: "GENESEE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015 Facebook, Twitter, and Their Friends: Effectively Navigating Employee and Student."— Presentation transcript:

1 GENESEE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015 Facebook, Twitter, and Their Friends: Effectively Navigating Employee and Student Issues in the Era of Social Media Presenter: Kevin T. Sutton Want to download this presentation? Do it now:

2 How social media questions make us feel … How we want to feel about these issues …

3 Why is this Issue So Difficult? Uncertainty in Law  Lack of cohesion from state to state  Lack of consistency from court to court  Balance of private rights v. obligation to community  Blurred lines (public v. private) Why?  Law moves slowly  Social media outlets emerge too fast  Example: Snapchat  Districts forced to be reactive instead of proactive

4 Intersecting Concepts Free Speech Policy Search & Seizure Privacy Discipline Safety Hiring/ Firing Cyber- Bullying Disruption Evidence

5 We used to think we had a pretty good grasp on this stuff …

6 But “Social Media” is so much more than most people think …

7 Social Media Permeates … Everything Always On  Accessible on mobile devices  Live tweeting  Interactive television Universal  Everyone wants to “connect”  “Grandma joined Facebook!”  iPhone 6 … 10 million orders Consequences  Example – game attendance  Deterioration of soft skills  “If you can’t say something nice ….”

8 Where Do We Start?

9 First Amendment Overview

10 This is Speech After All … Right?!? Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Sch. Dist. (1969)  USSC recognizes students’ right to free speech on and off campus  Students have right to free speech unless it “materially disrupts class work or involves a substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others” Hazelwood Sch. Dist. v. Kuhlmeir (1980)  First Amendment protections did not compel a public school to affirmatively sponsor speech that conflicts with its “legitimate pedagogical goals” even though same speech could not be regulated outside of school

11 Analysis of Speech Key Question: Does the speech from outside school walls cause a substantial disruption in school? If YES, discipline may be appropriate In NO, discipline not likely appropriate

12 Student Issues Abound Sampling of recent headlines …  Lawsuit alleges Mississippi district expelled him for online posting of nude photo of classmate  New Jersey district settles lawsuit with student disciplined for profane off- campus tweet about principal  Parents file claim against San Diego district after cyberbullying incident led to student’s suicide  Father of bullied student who committed suicide sues Illinois district and producers of anti-bullying video  Oregon district settles student’s lawsuit over high school dance team’s social media policy  Former student sues Minnesota district after “sarcastic” tweet leads to seven-week suspension … from the past 8 months

13 Recent Cases – First Amendment Bell v. Itawamba Cty. Sch. Bd.  __ F.3d __ (5 th Cir. 2014) S.J.W. v. Lee’s Summit R-7 School Dist.  696 F.3d 771 (8 th Cir. 2012) Kowalski v. Berkeley Cty. Schools  652 F.3d 565 (4 th Cir. 2011) J.S. v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist.  650 F.3d 915 (3 rd Cir. 2011) Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist.  650 F.3d 205 (3 rd Cir. 2011)

14 Recent Cases – First Amendment J.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified Sch. Dist.  711 F.Supp.2d 1094 (C.D. Calif. 2010) Evans v. Bayer  684 F.Supp.2d 1365 (S.D. Fla. 2010) Doninger v. Niehoff  527 F.3d 41 (2 nd Cir. 2008) J.S. v. Bethlehem Area Sch. Dist.  807 A.2d 847 (Pa. 2002)

15 Basic Principles Extracted Assessing a “Substantial Disruption”  Use Caution  Be Realistic  Inconvenience not enough  Embarrassment not enough  Key elements  Violence  Threats  Safety  Criminal Activity  Courts Don’t Always Cooperate

16 On-Campus v. Off-Campus Conduct

17 Remember … First Amendment considerations  Tinker  Hazelwood Can police off-campus speech  “Substantial Disruption”  Consider safety, threats, violence  Nexus to school activities

18 Wynar v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. Student sent “increasingly violent and threatening” messages via Myspace from home about weapons and threatened to shoot people at school on a specific date Threats are definitely speech that would reasonably lead school officials to “forecast substantial disruption” Citation: Wynar v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist., 728 F.3d 1062 (9 th Cir. 2013)

19 Nixon v. Hardin County Bd. of Educ. Student tweeted about shooting/killing another student First Amendment concern – can schools regulate off campus online speech by students? Held:  Speech (tweets) had no connection to school other than speaker and target being students there  Speech not at school, directed at school, or involved school time or equipment. There was no disruption to school.  School’s Motion for Summary Judgment on First Amendment claim denied Hard to explain outcome; Court was wrong Citation: 988 F.Supp.2d 826 (W.D. Tenn. 2013)

20 Fourth Amendment Issues

21 Internet Privacy Protection Act Public Act 478 of 2012  Sec. 4. An educational institution shall not do any of the following:  (a) Request a student or prospective student to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the student’s or prospective student’s personal internet account.  (b) Expel, discipline, fail to admit, or otherwise penalize a student or prospective student for failure to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the student’s or prospective student’s personal internet account.  NOTE: Sec. 3 provides similar restrictions for employers

22 Search & Seizure - Students Standard for Police  Warrant for search Standard for School Administrators  Two-Step Inquiry [TLO v. New Jersey]  Reason to suspect student violated SCC?  Reason to suspect evidence of violation of SCC exists in the area you want to investigate/look?  Confirmed by GC v. Owensboro Public Schools (March 2013)

23 Search & Seizure Practical Examples:  Things v. Information  Things Search for Stolen iPad Search for a Weapon Search for Drugs  Information Law Not Well-Developed Search for Texts Search for Photos Consent Issues  Can be addressed via policy  Reasonable expectation of privacy?  Use what you have at your disposal!

24 R.S. v. Minnewaska Area Sch. Dist. Factual Background Factors to consider to determine if search is reasonable:  The scope of the legitimate expectation of privacy at issue  The character of the intrusion complained of  The nature and immediacy of the governmental concern at issue and the efficacy of the means employed dealing with it Bottom Line – They Went Too Far IPPA Implications in MI Citation: 894 F.Supp.2d 1128 (D. Minn. 2012)

25 Rosario v. Clark County Sch. Dist. Student tweets   “Mr. Isaacs is a b*tch too”  “I hope Coach brown gets f*ck*d in tha *ss by 10 black d*icks”  “F*ck coach browns b*tch *ss”  “AND Ms. Evans b*tch *ss boyfriend too He a p*ssy *ss n*gg* tryna talk sh*t” Student argued school violated his Fourth Amendment rights by searching his Twitter account Court finds student had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his tweets Student had private Twitter account but court says that’s irrelevant The school accessed his tweets through one of student’s followers Where person tweets to his friends he runs the risk that the friend will turn it over to the government Note: First Amendment protections applied Citation: 2013 US Dist. LEXIS 93963 (D. Nev. 2013)

26 Employee/Staff Issues Problematic, Though Generally Less Pervasive  Intentional v. Unintentional  Recent examples Clear Expectations  Acceptable Use Policies  Digital Communications & Social Media Policies Guidance Often Ignored  “I won’t be the one …”  “Everyone else has it …”  “No one will ever see my posts …” Consequences, Be Damned!  Freedom of speech/privacy advocates Generational Issues?

27 “Employer demands Facebook login credentials during interview” Headline - Feb. 20, 2011 Officer for Maryland Division of Corrections (DOC) forced to hand over login credentials during interview DOC wanted login information for background checks Difference between checking what job applicant posted publicly online and private information Officer had highest privacy settings, likened it to government agency going through his personal mail Federal Stored Communications Act implications

28 Practical Guidance Searching Staff Activities on District Network  District AU and Other Policies Rule  Tougher standards  Less wiggle room  Easier to investigate  Easier to discipline  Recent examples Porn Search at Work

29 Free Speech Has Its Limitations Assumptions Don’t Match Reality Speech of Public Employees is Closely Scrutinized  Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006)  A public employee’s speech concerning his or her job duties was not entitled to First Amendment protection  Lane v. Franks (2014)  A public employer may not retaliate against a public employee for giving truthful testimony, under subpoena and under oath, where testifying in court is not part of the employee’s job

30 Social Media and Tenured Teachers Relative to the World of Social Media … The Case of Anna Land  The “Jobbie Nooner Case”  Middle school teacher, tenured  “A simulated act of fellatio with a male mannequin”  Photos posted to Internet  Images spread like wildfire – community concerns, etc.  Terminated by District  Dismissal reversed by State Tenure Commission (Early 2009)  STC decision affirmed by Michigan Court of Appeals (May 2010)

31 What We Think We Know: Guiding Principles from Land Adverse Effects Doctrine (Beebe)  Given the presumption of fitness engendered by tenure status, 'just and reasonable cause' can be shown only by significant evidence proving that a teacher is unfit to teach. Because the essential function of a teacher is the imparting of knowledge and of learning ability, the focus of this evidence must be the effect of the questioned activity on the teacher's students. Secondarily, the tenure revocation proceeding must determine how the teacher's activity affects other teachers and school staff.  [T]he likelihood that the conduct may have adversely affected students or fellow teachers, the degree of such adversity anticipated, the proximity or remoteness in time of the conduct, the type of teaching certificate held by the party involved, the extenuating or aggravating circumstances, if any, surrounding the conduct, the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of the motives resulting in the conduct, the likelihood of the recurrence of the questioned conduct, and the extent to which disciplinary action may inflict an adverse impact or chilling effect upon the constitutional rights of the teacher involved or other teachers.

32 What We Think We Know: Guiding Principles from Land Misconduct Needed Too  Absent misconduct, consideration of negative publicity surrounding a teacher's behavior would run afoul of the purpose of the Teachers' Tenure Act to protect the rights of competent teachers to teach. Thus, while we agree that it was unfortunate that students gained access to the photographs in this case, we expressly disavow any suggestion that negative publicity alone, absent a showing of underlying professional misconduct, can provide reasonable and just cause for discipline under the Teachers' Tenure Act.

33 What We Think We Know: Guiding Principles from Land Adverse Effects + Misconduct = Grounds to Terminate Specific to tenured teachers Specific to offsite, electronic communications, outside District network Not exactly the slam dunk we would hope for

34 Reason to Hope? Might Land be an aberration? Things to consider …  Just Cause v. Arbitrary & Capricious  More favorable STC  Overall tenor of discussion, increased knowledge about online activities Would the outcome be different today?  Tough to predict  Above items suggest yes, but case language a challenge

35 Geissler v. Independent School District #2154 Teacher seen viewing pornography on computer Investigation revealed 200,000 pornographic web site visits in 15 months Use of District system Terminated; termination sustained - misconduct The frequency with which the claimant violated the school district’s policies and the subject matter of the computer use was a serious violation of the standards of behavior the school district had the right to reasonably expect of the employee

36 Munroe v. Cent. Bucks. Sch. Dist. Teacher with a personal blog Negative blog posts about administration and students Terminated; sued alleging First Amendment harassment and retaliation Postings were “far from implicating larger discussions of education reform, pedagogical methods, or specific school policies” and “mostly complained about the failure of her students to live up to her expectations” Case dismissed Citation: 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101571 (E.D. Penn. July 25, 2014)

37 Rubino v. City of New York Student drowned during field trip Next day teacher posted on Facebook “the beach sounds like a wonderful idea for my 5 th graders! I HATE THEIR GUTS!”  “Friend” commented “you would let little Kwame float away” to which teacher responded, “Yes I wouldn’t throw a life jacket in for a million!” Postings shown to administration and investigation began Teacher admitted to writing the postings at a hearing Teacher argued termination would be arbitrary and capricious; she had clear employment history, and her comment bore no relation to teaching ability Alleged infringement of First Amendment rights Court held termination was not arbitrary and capricious but the punishment was not proportionate to her offense; termination was inconsistent with first amendment freedom of speech Citation: 34 Misc. 3d 1220(A) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2012)

38 Practical Guidance Strong Policies  All communication driven through District network  All communication educational in nature only  Dilemma – 21 st Century Learning v. Inappropriate Actions  Prohibition on connecting with current students (encourage?)  Twitter assignments/communication  Training / Communication of Expectations is Paramount Need for open dialogue with staff/EA Investigation  Conversation with employee  Case by Case on how hard to push

39 Practical Guidance Social Media in Hiring  Background Checks  What are you looking for?  Beware - Discrimination Issues  Remember IPPA Discipline/Discharge  Look for nexus between conduct and educational impact  Misconduct?

40 Sample Social Media Policy Digital communication (including social networking) that occurs on district premises or involves the use of district equipment is governed by the Acceptable Use Policy ([insert reference]) and this Policy. This Policy also applies to digital communication that occurs off district premises and/or using non-district equipment. Digital communication (including social networking) provides educational and other opportunities for staff and students. The Board of Education expects that staff and students who engage in digital communication will do so in a reasonable and appropriate manner. Specifically, digital communication between staff and students, or to which students reasonably may be exposed, should be professional and of the same content, tone and demeanor as in- school communication between staff and students. Similarly, digital communication between staff and parents, community members and other adults, or to which staff members, parents and community members reasonably may be exposed, should be professional. The Superintendent is authorized to promulgate administrative regulations implementing this policy. © Lusk & Albertson School Policy Services, 2015

41 Sample Admin Regulations Digital Communication Involving Students Digital Communication Involving Board and Staff Members, Parents and Others Personal Digital Social Networking The district does not have the inclination, resources or ability to police the off-duty behavior of staff members. At the same time, staff must be cognizant of the fact they serve as role models for our students. Furthermore, their communications and behavior may affect the reputation of the district and their colleagues. For these reasons, staff are reminded that off-duty digital communication may result in investigation, disciplinary sanctions or discharge when those communications, or characterizations or depictions of staff behavior, disrupts the educational environment or adversely affects or undermines their ability to perform their jobs. © Lusk & Albertson School Policy Services, 2015

42 Cyberbullying

43 Cyberbullying Defined “Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computer, cell phones, and other electronic devices”  T.K. v. NYC Dept of Ed, 779 F.Supp.2d 289 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) “When the Internet, cell phones, or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person” 

44 How is Cyberbullying Different? Attacks can be anonymous Bullying can go viral Bully does not see emotional toll the bullying creates Absence of monitoring / lack of knowledge by parents, teachers 24/7 in nature 2010 Study – 10-18 years old  20.8% cyberbullied in lifetime  7.5% cyberbullied in last 30 days  16% of high school students cyberbullied in past year


46 Questions?

47 Resources/Contact @LuskAlbertson 248-988-5695 - Direct 734-377-7400 - Cell

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