DSEA, 136 E. Water St.
Dover, DE 19901
DSEA, 4135 Ogletown-Stanton Rd.
Suite 101 Newark, DE 19713
302-366-8440 (not a toll-free number)
Website Concerns: email@example.com
Teachers throughout Delaware and the nation are getting tangled in Internet controversies that are sparking debates about free speech and what school employees are allowed to do on their own time and on their own computers.
Teachers have First Amendment rights to do anything lawful on non-working time. But the DSEA urges teachers to exercise discretion and common sense when using modern media and technology.
While teachers have the same free speech rights as any other citizens, they may be dismissed based on “immoral or unprofessional conduct.” Placing personal information and photos on MySpace, Facebook, SecondLife and similar sites can open the door to problems if messages left by “friends” or links to their pages contain content that could be considered questionable.
Social networking sites can also blur the boundaries between teacher and student in a way that can cause problems. The fact that a student can attempt to contact an DSEA member who has a profile on these sites lends itself to the possible interpretation of an improper relationship. Because of the high standards placed on school employees and the risk of job and career loss, the DSEA recommends avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. Teachers need to remember that they are adults and that, with technology, everything can be traced back to the user—even if you are away from the school site.
MySpace and Facebook pages, even blogs can be used as evidence in disciplinary proceedings by school districts. These proceedings potentially affect not only a teacher’s current job but his/her teaching license.
DSEA members who find themselves impersonated on a site like MySpace or ridiculed on YouTube should immediately notify the operators of those websites. They should also immediately notify their UniServ Director, building or local representative and their school administrator.
If someone is writing about you or pretending to be you in a blog, on a MySpace page or other website, e-mail the person who did it and tell them they do not have your permission. You will have to open an account on that site to send them e-mail. Tell them that you strongly suggest they take it down. Then contact the website administrator, your local representative and your school administrator.
It’s important to act quickly, because when students impersonate teachers or put videos of them on YouTube without their consent, it can damage a career.
In its fine print, the YouTube website stipulates that written permission must be obtained from every person who is “identifiable” in a video to be aired on its site. And school employees have used that to their advantage.
It’s more difficult to get a fake MySpace page removed, say teachers, since a new “profile” can be posted the next day. MySpace requires a subpoena before releasing the name of the person who is impersonating you. Those who have attempted to obtain subpoenas have sometimes met with frustration at the hands of local law enforcement and even the FBI.
If you want to avoid Web entanglements, consider the following: