A Northampton County school is considering a major change in its social media policy, several months after one of its former teachers was sentenced for having sex with a student.
The policy would ban messages between teachers and students on all forms of social media unless it's an official school page.
The Express-Times reports the district would reserve the right to “inspect, review or retain” any social media content that is created, shared, stored or viewed on the district’s computer system. The policy would also allow the district to inspect all devices, including personal ones, brought onto district property, according to the Express-Times. Finally, under the policy, employees would not be allowed to use personal social media accounts during the school day, post information that conveys sex or drug and alcohol usage or make terroristic threats online, according to the Express-Times.
"It gives us an ability, if we believe there's been any inappropriate communication between a faculty member or staff member and one our students, that we have the authority to look into it,” said Pam Colton, president of the Bangor Area School Board.
Last April, former Bangor Area High School teacher Rachel Farrell, 26, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for having sex with her 17-year-old student back in August of 2010. She was sentenced to 23-months in prison for corruption of a minor. The Express-Times reports Farrell admitted the relationship with the student began through messages sent on Facebook. Colton insists the policy has nothing to do with that incident however.
"It was definitely more coincidence," said Colton. "It didn't spark the conversation."
The District instead told the Express-Times the policy was inspired by a similar one adopted by the Phillipsburg School Board.
NBC10 spoke with students at Bangor High about the proposed policy.
“It’s keeping students safe,” said Paxton Ramsey, a student at Bangor High School. “There’s not too many times when you need to communicate with teachers other than email.”
“Teachers shouldn’t have friends that are students until after they graduate,” said another student. “Actually a lot of teachers are doing that.”
“A teacher should never communicate with a student through Facebook,” said one parent.
Not every parent agrees the policy is necessary however.
“They’re definitely overreacting,” said David Correll of East Bangor. “They overreact all the time. They don’t know how to fix the problem so they just figure this will fix it.”