Teachers as Role Models: Limitation on Their Use of Social Networking

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Education Law Reporter


teachers, social networking, limitations, school policy, facebook, first amendment


Both San Diego and Spanierman upheld the decisions of school districts to terminate teachers for inappropriate social networking conduct. However, the two cases suggest that the meaning of “role model” is still very much tied to the facts of each case. Thus, while finding in San Diego that the teacher was not an appropriate role model, the California appeals court reached that conclusion by engaging in an eight–point analysis of the impact of the teacher's social networking conduct on the school and its students. The federal district court in Spanierman, on the other hand, upheld the probationary teacher's contract nonrenewal because neither of his constitutional claims (expression and association) were applicable. Both cases though–San Diego with its emphasis on teacher social networking that did not involve students and Spanierman with its evidence of teacher social network contact with students–present legal trip wires for school districts in addressing situations involving teachers and social networking.

School districts may want to consider the following practices in anticipating and addressing teacher social networking issues.


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