Expectations for Digital Communication

The Catoosa County Schools Board of Education recognizes that an effective public education system develops students who are globally aware, civically engaged, and capable of managing their lives and careers. The board also believes that students need to be proficient users of information, media, and technology to succeed in a digital world.
Therefore, the Catoosa County Public School district will use electronic resources as a powerful and compelling means for students to learn core subjects and applied skills in relevant and rigorous ways. It is the district's goal to provide students with rich and ample opportunities to use technology for important purposes in schools just as individuals in workplaces and other real-life settings. The district's technology will enable educators and students to communicate, learn, share, collaborate and create, to think and solve problems, to manage their work, and to take ownership of their lives. To that end CCPS employees are expected to follow the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators (http://www.gapsc.com/Rules/Current/Ethics/505-6-.01.pdf) and treat all electronic communications in the same way they would handle face-to-face communications with students, parents and colleagues.

The expectations for our employees are designed for the purpose of protecting district stakeholders, providing guidance for communicating electronically and to consider outcomes that may follow when using electronic communication with stakeholders. The following expectations apply to all CCPS employees when communicating with students, parents and stakeholders electronically:

1. The message should be clear. - ALL electronic communication between staff, students, and parents should be clear. Because we are a public school district, it is important to maintain this clarity so that we retain a level of accountability with regard to communicating with our stakeholders.

2. The message may be requested. - ALL electronic communication between staff, students and parents are a matter of public record and/or may be accessible by others.

3. The message represents the professionalism of CCPS employees. - ALL electronic communications with our stakeholders should be written in a way that represents our professionalism. It is important to remember that the subject matter, choice of words and overall tone of the electronic communication reflect our district standards of professionalism.

Electronic communication may take many forms. CCPS employees should use the following as guidance when communicating with students, parents and stakeholders.

Preferred electronic communications methods with students, parents and stakeholders:

School or District Approved Teacher Websites: The district or schools may purchase teacher website software which will allow staff to communicate directly with students and parents regarding information related to student academic performance. Currently the district and/or schools offer School Messenger, Infinite Campus, G Suite and Remind to help facilitate this communication.  Additionally the district approves software and extensions that allow for parent/teacher communication such as Class Dojo or SeeSaw.

School or District Approved Digital Communication Resources: the primary resource is the CCPS G Suite (Grades 2-12).  Within G Suite staff can communicate directly with students and parents regarding information related to academic performance. G Suite offers CCPS staff some of the same types of communication that public social media networks provide while also offering access to curriculum and learning resources beyond the classroom walls. G Suite allows for effective online learning by supporting online discussions, online delivery of assessments, and the sharing of documents, images and other media, all in a secure, password protected environment. CCPS staff members also select additional software applications to support their curriculum standards.  

District Email, District Approved Student Email and Phone - Use of District email and district phones is always an appropriate method of communicating directly with students and parents. District email provides CCPS employees with a record of the communication. The district approves the email services of G Suite (Gmail) for our staff and students and it is compliant with COPPA (Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act of 1998).  District email should not be used to send student personally identifiable information (PII) nor should it be used to send district or personal financial information.

Communication methods to be used in limited situations with students, parents and stakeholders:

Text Messaging - Today most students have a cell phone and their preferred method of communication is through text messaging. This form of communication is often between individuals and it is a quick and expedient way of communicating. However, staff members should be aware that text messaging between a staff member and an individual student can easily be misinterpreted by a parent. The district offers an approved text method of communicating with stakeholders through the Remind service. If a staff member plans to use texting outside of the district approved Remind service for immediate and urgent contact with students/team members, they must be clear about such use along with communicating to stakeholders the limited situations in which it may become necessary to text. CCPS staff must make parents aware at the beginning of the school year or season that he/she may use texting.

CCPS Staff members should not use the following to communicate with students:

Non-District Email, Instant/Private Messaging - CCPS employees should not use personal email accounts to communicate with students about school matters.

Violations: An employee who fails to comply with the school system's Digital Communications Expectations shall be subject to disciplinary measures, up to and including termination.

Important Reminders: Social Media Sites for Personal Purposes

The decision to participate in various social networking sites, whether publishing or commenting on content is a personal one. While the 1st Amendment (Free Speech) may protect employees who use these sites for certain purposes, the courts have also held that schools may discipline employees if their speech, including online postings, is unprofessional, harmful to others, or disrupts school operations. Therefore, employees should not use their district email address for communications on social media networks for personal accounts.  Employees should not use their personal accounts to set up a social media account for a CCPS school, program or to represent a class. All employees using social media for educational use are expected to comply with all district policies and state laws on the use of district owned email address use, district-owned hardware, software and networks apply, as relevant, to the use of social media for a CCPS school, class or program. It is recommended that employees identify the account as associated with a CCPS school, class or program as well as clear identification of the staff member managing the account.

The barrier between the role of a teacher and personal friendships with students should always be maintained and communicated in a way that promotes clear understanding. Posting to social media sites is a very common practice today and employees should ask themselves before making the post, "Is this post ok to appear on the news or be on the front page of the newspaper?" If the answer is "no," then don't post.

Georgia Professional Standards Recommendations for Social Media and Students

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission website (http://www.gapsc.com/Ethics/index.asp) PowerPoint presentation offers the following guidelines regarding social networking and students: Don't accept students as friends and decline any student initiated social network friend requests.

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