Posting Comments Online
A unit officer reports that a school board has received a copy of a Facebook exchange among several OECTA members, in which a member comments about a student, in a way that the board deems derogatory. No action has been taken, but the unit is concerned about the potential for discipline.
The unit is advised to keep a copy of the material deemed inappropriate. The member is advised to say, I am willing to cooperate but I am unable to comment until I contact OECTA or my legal representative, if contacted about the matter by the employer. The member should call OECTA immediately.
OECTA cautions members to Be Wary and Be Wise. Many teachers use Internet technology to support their own teaching and self-directed learning, but some teachers have stepped on digital landmines in the online world.
OECTA advises all members to maintain the highest professional standards at all times. Employ caution when using all forms of online communication or social media such as Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and others. Electronic communications create a permanent record, and these sites retain ownership of materials that are uploaded to them, even after the material has been deleted.
Teachers are held to higher standards, therefore are subject to higher scrutiny than most people. Online postings, even on protected sites, are equivalent to public ones. Confidential information should never be shared online. Records of online communications can be forwarded anywhere, by anyone who receives or views them. Failure to communicate appropriately can put teachers at risk with the employer, the Ontario College of Teachers, Children’s Aid Society and police. Never email or post comments that could be considered libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist, threatening or obscene, that could be used as evidence of unprofessional conduct.