Social Media Overview

RPS Social Media Guidelines for Faculty & Staff

Vision Statement

To develop 21st century skills through relevant instruction to create learners who are academically competitive, technology literate, motivated, and college and career ready.

Purpose Statement

To enable secure access and effective delivery of curriculum, sustainable and proactive instructional technology support, and efficient and reliable information for decision making for all stakeholders.

Ralston Public Schools developed a three-pronged strategic plan focusing on Achievement, Character, & Technology for national accreditation.  As part of the five year strategic plan, effective and consistent communication was defined as a key factor for development and implementation.   The initiatives include establishing a presence on social media to communicate with stakeholders in and out of the district.  

To this aim, the Ralston Public Schools District has adopted the following guidelines to provide direction for staff, faculty, students, and the School District community when participating in online social media activities.  Whether or not an employee chooses to personally participate in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion, it is their decision.  Free speech protects individuals who want to participate in social media, but the laws and courts have ruled that school districts can discipline employees if their speech, including online postings, disrupts school operations.  

The Ralston Public School social media guidelines encourages employees  to participate in online social activities.  The guidelines have been created as a resource for you.  It is important to create an atmosphere of trust and individual accountability, keeping in mind that information produced by Ralston Public School District employees and students reflect on the entire district and is subject to the district’s Acceptable Use Policy.  By accessing, creating or contributing to any blogs, wikis, podcasts or other social media for classroom or district use, you agree to abide by these guidelines.  Please read them carefully before participating in any social media application.

RPS Acceptable Use Policy

The use of school-owned technology, including computers, whether stand-alone, as a part of a local area network, or as part of a wide area network such as the Internet, is a privilege, not a right, and must be consistent with and driven by the educational objectives of the Ralston School District.

The Ralston School District exercises exclusive control over all school-owned technology, and students should not expect privacy regarding their use of any such equipment or network because school property is subject to search and inspection at any time by school officials. This search and inspection includes, but is not limited to, electronic mail, Internet access, file storage and transfer. Students are responsible for whatever is contained in computer files assigned to them.

Students using computers connected to the Internet, an international computer network, are able to access computers and people all over the world. The Ralston School District does not condone student access to any unsuitable materials which exist on the Internet. The Ralston School District recognizes that it cannot control the information on other computer systems and that it may not be physically possible to screen out all such inappropriate information and materials. All student Internet activities are subject to being monitored.

The Ralston School District makes no warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, for the technological services it provides. The District will not be responsible for any damage a user suffers. This includes loss of data.

Technology will be supplied for student use on an “as is, as available” basis. The availability of online resources does not indicate endorsement of their contents by the Ralston School District. The District specifically denies any responsibility for the accuracy or quality of information obtained through the Internet.

The purchase of services or merchandise through the Internet including the use of credit cards by students through District technological services is prohibited. The Ralston School District shall not be liable for any costs arising out of such transactions.

The Ralston School District will not be responsible for any liability or expense the user may incur in connection with the use of District technology. The user agrees to indemnify (hold harmless) the Ralston School District for any expenses, including attorney’s fees, arising out of the use of District technology in violation of this agreement.

It is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to establish and convey the standards that their child should follow. In support of parents/guardians, the Ralston School District will enforce the minimum appropriate technology use standards set in the Technology Procedures (Code of Ethics for Technology).

What is Social Media?

Online user created content designed in a collaborative environment where users share opinions, knowledge, and information with each other.

Examples include, but not limited to:

  • Blogs (Blogger, Wordpress, etc.)

  • Wikis ( Wikispaces, Google sites, etc.)

  • Social Networking ( Facebook, Ning, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, etc.)

  • Photo and Video Sharing sites (Youtube, Vine, Instagram, Flickr, etc.)

  • Social Bookmarking (Diigo, Delicious, Pocket)

  • Podcasting & Vodcasting

Personal Responsibility

  • Ralston Public Schools encourages teachers with a personal online presence to be mindful of the information they post.  Your online behavior should reflect the same standards shared in our stewardship pledge.  Even if you delete information, it still may be stored on the website’s server.

  • The lines between public and private, personal and professional are blurred in the digital world.  By virtue of identifying yourself as a RPS employee online, you are now connected to colleagues, students, parents and the school community.  You should ensure that content associated with you is consistent with your work at RPS.

  • It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the appropriate security settings for any social media (personal or professional) that you may use.  Be sure that the settings are such that any personal content may only be viewed by your intended audience.  Be aware that, even if your privacy settings are set properly, it is still possible for anyone who you have allowed to see your profile to copy and share with someone else.  Similarly, if you enable settings such as Facebook’s ability to allow “friends of friends” to view your content, it is extremely likely that unintended viewers will have access to pictures and other personal content.

  • It is inappropriate to use e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging or social networking sites to discuss a student matter that does not pertain to school-related activities. Appropriate discussions would include the student’s homework, class activity, school sport or club, or other school-sponsored activities.   

  • Material that employees post on social networks that is publicly available to those in the school community  must reflect the professional image applicable to the employee’s position and not impair the employee’s capacity to maintain the respect of students and parents/guardians or impair the employee’s ability to serve as a role model for children.

Professional Responsibility

  • Social Media can be a powerful communication tool and educational tool for students and parents.  RPS employees are encouraged to use social media for these purposes.

  • Ralston Public School employees are personally responsible for the content they publish online.  Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time - protect your privacy.

  • Remember that social media in the classroom is an extension of your physical classroom.  What is inappropriate in your classroom should be deemed inappropriate online.

  • Staff who use social networking to interact with students in an educational manner must find a way to interact without giving students access to your personal information and posts.  Many social network sites allow you to create “groups” or “pages” where you can interact with students without giving them access to your personal account.  Please see detailed Facebook guidelines for more information.

  • When contributing online do not post confidential student information. Do not post pictures of any students on your personal sites.

Overall Guidelines for Using Social Media   

The following are general guidelines for using social media whether personally or professionally.

Be Transparent

How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself.  Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone else’s identity or misrepresenting your identity.  Be honest about who you are, where you work and what you do.

School Values

Represent the district stewardship pledge.  Express ideas and opinions in a respectful manner.  All communications should be done in good taste.  Build trust and responsibility in your relationships. Do not denigrate or insult others including students, staff, administrators, parents, or other districts.  Any online contributions must be in accordance with the appropriate handbook.  Consider carefully what you post through comments and photos. A violation of these guidelines could be regarded as a form of professional misconduct and may result in disciplinary action.

Build Community/Positively Represent

Represent the district, the students and parents you serve in the best light.  Respect the privacy and the feelings of others.  Under no circumstance should offensive comments about students or colleagues (including administrators) or the district in general be made.  Negative comments about people may amount to cyberbullying  and could be deemed a disciplinary offense.  Your posts and comments should help build and support the school community.  Do not comment on or forward unsupported information, e.g. rumors.  You are responsible for what you and others post, even if on a personal page, be certain it is accurate and supports RPS.  It is good practice to monitor your profile page to ensure that all material posted by others doesn’t violate these guidelines.  Once posted you can’t usually take it back.

Share your Expertise

Write what you know and be accurate.  Add value to the discussion. Post something useful.  Provide worthwhile information and perspective.  A district’s most valuable asset is its staff represented by its people and what you publish may reflect on the school.  Speak in the first person with your own voice and perspective.

Respect & Responsible

Employees, parents and students reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view.  Be respectful for others’ opinions in your posts or comments.  You are responsible for the content you post.  Does your tags, descriptions, and your image portray you and the District in a professional manner?

Own & Correct Mistakes

If you make a mistake, admit the mistake and correct it quickly.  Share your error with your principal or Human Resources, so they can help address the issue effectively.  Clearly state if you have corrected a previous post.  Even though damage may be done, it is best to admit your mistake and correct it.  Apologize if appropriate.

Confidential Information

Online postings and conversations are not private.  Do not share confidential information whether it is internal school discussions or specific information about students or other staff.  What you post will be seen by others and will be online for a long time.  It can be forwarded or shared in just a few clicks.  Do not write about colleagues or students without their expressed permission.

School Logos

Obtain permission before using any school or district logo or image.  School logos may only be used in a professional capacity.  When using social media is a professional manner all images and colors should match the organization’s  logo or mascot when possible.

Posting Photos or Movies without Permission

Do not post or tag photos or movies of others without their permission.  Do not use photos or movies taken at school without permission.  Do not post photos or movies that contain students without parent consent.

Responding to Negative Comments or Criticism

How you respond to a negative comment or criticism will say more about you and your character than what you post.  When in doubt, it’s best not to give it credibility by acknowledging it with a response publicly; perhaps a private response would be more appropriate.

Response & Post Regularly

To encourage readership, post regularly.  Don’t post to your blog and then not post for three weeks.  Readers won’t have a reason to follow you if they cannot expect new content regularly.  Respond to other’s posts.  Answer questions; thank people even if it’s just a few words.  Make it a two-way conversation.

Spell Check & Abbreviations

Any online contribution should be well written.  What you post will be online for the world to read.  Follow writing conversations including proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.  Be cautious about using common abbreviations.  While your circle of friends may understand what you are saying, you may have readers from across the world who won’t understand.  When in doubt, define the abbreviation at least once in a post or include a definitions page on your site.

Copyright & Fair Use

Respect copyright and fair use guidelines.  Share what others have said by linking to the source and using embedded content.  Be sure to cite your source when quoting.  When using a hyperlink confirm that link goes where it should and that the content is appropriate.  It is recommended that all online content be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 3.0 United States License

Personal Information

Be careful about sharing too much personal information.  People seem to share personal information such as their pet names, their parents names, where they grew up, and more.  This information may help a hacker guess your passwords.  If you share that you will be out of town, a criminal may use this to target your home.  Do not share with a student your personal problems that would normally be discussed with adults.  Be smart and don’t share too much information.


The internet is becoming an increasingly popular educational tool and place to share personally created movies.  You are responsible for all you do, say, and post online including video.  Anything you post online should represent you in a professional manner as others will see you as connected to RPS.  Anything you show in your classroom should be previewed by you in its entirety, prior to any student seeing it.  Consult a supervisor if you feel the content may be questionable.

Staff-Student Relations

Staff are prohibited from establishing relationships with students that are unprofessional and thereby inappropriate.  Examples of unprofessional conduct include, but not limited to include: staff fraternizing or communicating with students as if staff and students were peers such as writing personal letters or emails; personally texting or calling students, or allowing students to make personal calls to them unrelated to homework, class work, or other school-related business; sending inappropriate pictures to students; discussing or revealing to students personal matters about their private lives or inviting students to do the same (other than professional counseling by a school counselor); and engaging is sexualized dialogue, whether in person, by phone, via the internet, or in writing.  Staff who who post information on Facebook, Twitter or other social media/websites that include inappropriate personal information such as, but not limited to: provocative photographs, sexually explicit messages, abuse of alcohol, drugs or anything students are prohibited from doing must understand that if students, parents or other employees obtain access to such information, their case will be investigated by school and district officials.

Social Media Guidelines for Students

  1. Social media venues are very public. What you contribute leaves a digital footprint forever, usually even after it is deleted.  Do not post anything you wouldn’t want friends, enemies, parents, teachers, or a future employer to see.  Make sure what you post promotes a positive image.

  2. Follow the school’s code of conduct when writing online.  It is acceptable to disagree with someone else’s opinions, however do it in a respectful, constructive way.  What is inappropriate in the classroom is inappropriate online.

  3. Be safe online.  Never give out personal information, including but not limited to last names, any phone numbers, addresses, birthdates, and pictures.  Do not share your password with anyone besides your parents, and teachers if necessary.

  4. Linking to other websites to support your thoughts and ideas is recommended.  However, be sure to read the entire article prior to linking to ensure that all information is appropriate for a school setting.

  5. Do you own work.  Do not use other people’s intellectual property, including pictures, without their permission.  It is a violation of copyright law to copy and paste other’s thoughts without proper attribution.  When paraphrasing another’s idea(s) be sure to cite your source with the specific web address.  Verify you have permission to use the material or it is under creative commons attribution.

  6. How you represent yourself online is an extension of yourself.  Do not misrepresent yourself by using someone’s else’s identity.

  7. Blog, wiki, and other online posts should be well written.  Follow writing conventions including proper grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.  If you have permission to edit someone else’s work be sure it is in the spirit of improving the writing.

  8. If you run across inappropriate material, that makes you feel uncomfortable, or is not respectful, tell the supervising adult right away.

  9. Cyberbullying is not tolerated.  What constitutes cyberbullying, the actions you should take to document cyberbullying if you feel you are a victim, and the actions that may be taken against participating individuals are clearly outlined in the student handbook.

  10. Students who do not abide by these terms and conditions may lose their opportunity to take part in the project and/or access to future use of online tools.

Facebook Guidelines

Facebook can be a powerful communication and educational tool for our educational community.  Employees in the Ralston Public Schools are encouraged to use social media as tool of communication.  The following guidelines have been established to provide a direction for all employees on the appropriate use of Facebook.

Personal Use of Facebook

RPS employees are encouraged to keep their private life personal, even in the digital world.  District guidelines discourages employees from “friending” students and/or parents on their personal Facebook accounts.   

Response for employees to respond to “friend” requests on their personal Facebook page:  

If you are a student or parent requesting to be my “friend” on Facebook please be advised that RPS discourages me from “friending” students and parents on my personal Facebook page.  I would encourage you to friend the RPS created pages.

Professional Use of Facebook

If using Facebook as an employee of the Ralston Public Schools, the following procedures should be followed:

  • Designated school personnel  will observe daily postings on the district/school pages.  That person can be the building administration or assigned by the building administrator.

  • Before any staff can create a page their building administrator must be made aware of your intent to create and maintain a Facebook page.

  • When using Facebook with a particular class, or group of students or parents, the page should be set up as a “group” page.

  • When using Facebook as a communication tool with the masses (sports,clubs & activities), the page should be set up as a “fan” page.

  • All personal security for the pages should be set so personal information cannot be viewed.

  • When creating a page make sure you identify the page as part of Ralston Public Schools.

  • A professional page must be set up using a district email address.

  • The use of district logos is recommended as a visual indicator that it is RPS approved.

  • Follow the Facebook Rules of Engagement  

  • The intent of any district/school/staff Facebook page is that is maintained on a weekly basis or be taken down after being created.

  • RPS reserves the right to remove any Facebook page that does not follow the Rules of Engagement.

  • Beginning the 2015-16 school year, all of the above guidelines must be followed.  If you currently have a page established for work purposes, please be sure that it meets the above criteria.

Rules of Engagement

The goal using Facebook by Ralston Public Schools is to share important information with our public and engage in an open and respectful forum.  To accomplish this goal we ask that you abide by the following guidelines:

  • Open conversation not personal issues.  This page is not intended to circumvent regular communication channels for sharing personal issues or concerns.  Comments regarding a personal issue with District, a school or staff member will be removed.

  • Be respectful.  Personal attacks or comments that are deemed offensive to any member of our community will not be tolerated.  Inappropriate remarks and profanity will be removed.

  • Do not use the RPS Facebook page for personal benefit or reward.  Do not attempt sell goods or services.  No political advertisements or forums will be tolerated.  

  • Stay on topic.  The pages are dedicated to the education of RPS students.  Keep the conversations related to our district, schools, activities.

  • Have a specific question for a staff member?  Contact them privately.  

  • Be factual.  Blatantly inaccurate information will not be allowed.  False information will be removed and factual information will be posted.

  • Employees of RPS may have personal Facebook pages.  Don’t be surprised or offended if your request to “friend” them is ignored.  District policy encourages staff to keep their personal lives just that.

Referenced Sites and Resources