Are Schools Monitoring Social Media Spying?

It seems like there are a group of families in New Jersey who don’t understand the meaning of the words “public” and “private”.

Parents of students at North Jersey’s High Point Regional High School are up in arms after one student was banned from attending the senior class formal after a tweet that was seen by the Principal. The tweet in question, on the day of the formal:

schools monitor social media

“Turned up” means drunk, or otherwise under the influence of something.

As a principal, if you are made aware that a student is going to show up at a school sanctioned event under the influence – because of something that student posted publicly – that is in no way spying. Acting on that information seems like the prudent thing to do, and well within the responsibilities of a principal. Actually, it seems like the only thing to do.

The families seem to be of a different mind. According to an article in the New Jersey Herald, parents are indeed suspicious:

“Over the past year, however, several other parents, teachers, and graduates of High Point — all of whom have asked for their names not to be published — have related similar stories of students being called to the office or questioned based on suspicion of activities frowned upon by the administration. Some suggested it was fairly common knowledge that this was being done.”

According to the same article, Superintendent Scott Ripley had the following to say:

“High Point administration reviews only those materials brought to its attention or that [are] publicly available. At no time does the administration pressure students into disclosing private posts on social media, nor does the administration engage in subterfuge in order to view such information.”

That’s pretty clear. The school is using the resources available to monitor risks in its community. That is not spying.

If what the teen tweeted about the formal was a joke, this is unfortunate, but if missing a party is the lone consequence then that is a lesson well learned.

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