I am strongly against the changes made to the Social Media Policy the Pennridge School Board presented at this past June 16th meeting. During the Board's discussion at the first Social Media Policy reading at the June 1st meeting it was requested by the directors to remove -- carve out -- all references to School Directors.
It was explained to me by [district superintendent] Dr. Bolton that the process is that new and revised policies are not read, they are provided digitally and the board members then read them; public reading isn't done at the meetings and it is up to [interested observers] to locate the policies in the district's board documents.
I encourage you to watch the district's Youtube recording of that June 16th meeting at 3 hours 32 minutes. It was said by board president Bill Krause that “this policy is for the district and not the board.” Board members said that they want “no mention of school directors” in this policy and past president Megan Banis-Clemens said, “It gives the impression to the community that if a board member violates the policy there is nothing you can do about it.” Yes, Megan said that.
I stood in front of the board at the June 16th meeting and voiced my concern for this change. Other concerned citizens also told the board of their concern. No citizens spoke at this or the earlier meeting supporting this change.
I am concerned that in the future Pennridge School Directors will post to their social media politically charged racist, transphobic, election denials and even asserting this day of reckoning known as the "Storm" and other Qanon conspiracies, including one the FBI has said is a terror threat, many of which are shared on School Board candidate Ricki Chaikin's social media posts, as has been reported in the Courier Times and Intelligencer. If she is elected and we have no social media policy thus allowing for her continued posting, it would be an embarrassment for the community.
Without a policy in place, directors can use their social media to spread lies, disinformation and propaganda with perceived immunity. They can call out by name community members, students, teachers and district employees that they do not agree with and be protected. Meanwhile those same students, teachers and district employees are rendered helpless since they are bound by this Social Media Policy, and yes, they can be fired by the Board for breaking this policy. Conduct like this has been going on with this board already making negative news.
At the end of the June 16th school board meeting in response to my spoken public comment opposing their attempted Social Media Policy carve-out, Megan Banis-Clemens said: "The only thing the school board members are held accountable to is the school code and violating this social media policy would not violate the school code. So it's symbolic and so people could write a policy like that and they could include the school board but it would be symbolic in nature."
It is absurd that these Directors can possibly think that they are immune and that they cannot be held accountable for content in their Social Media posting.
This policy needs our attention and we need to demand that it is fixed back to eliminate the special carve-out giving the School Directors a way out of what should be a respectful Social Media Policy.
I urge everyone to voice your concerns with emails to Dr. Bolton, firstname.lastname@example.org and the board, PSDSchoolBoard@pennridge.org, and to stand and speak opposing public comment and attend the next Pennridge School Board meeting at 7 p.m. on August 23rd.