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Rapid City-area schools revamp technology policy

RAPID CITY (AP) -- Officials at Rapid City Area Schools are reconsidering a change to the technology policy that would have made it tougher for district staff to contact students through social media, e-mail and text messages.

The policy would prohibit staff from "friending" students on social networking sites like Facebook unless they are a relative. It also would have required teachers and coaches who communicate via text or e-mail to send only group messages or send a copy of the message to their supervisor when a single message is necessary. The proposed policy change was presented to the Board of Education on Feb. 2.

Several staff members who work in nontraditional settings worry the policy would hinder their ability to do their jobs.

Superintendent Tim Mitchell said the policy has been sent back to the school attorney after the concerns were raised by staff members.

He said schools must update their technology policy on a regular basis in order to protect students, teachers and the district.

Jared Vasquez, activities director at Rapid City Stevens High School, said staff members came to him with questions about the proposed policy change. Many of them use social media to get information like schedules out to students.

"I think not only coaches, but educators in general understand the sensitivity of that media and also how things can be misperceived if you're not speaking directly with someone," Vasquez said.