educationtechnews.comFacebook friends: Is this principal going too far?

Facebook friends: Is this principal going too far?

October 3, 2010 by Claire Knight
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Internet, Latest News & Views

Some parents and students are in an uproar, claiming the school principal monitored his students’ activities on Facebook. But did he really cross the line?

In Michigan, All Saints Central School principal John Hoving created a Facebook profile. He said he uses Facebook to:

  • promote the school
  • connect with alumni, and
  • increase communication with parents.

Hoving also friends students who send him friend requests. As a result, some parents and students have accused him of using Facebook to monitor students’ online activity.

During an interview on Good Morning America, Hoving pointed out that students do not have to send him friend requests, but if they choose to — he accepts.

Hoving says if he happens to see students posting questionable content in public forums, he feels it is his responsibility — as a concerned adult — to help students understand the potential consequences of their digital activity.

Several parents and students spoke out in support of Hoving, saying they are fine with his efforts to “look out for” everyone at school.

Others have said Hoving is “overstepping his boundaries as a principal of a high school.”

Richard Guerry, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-phone Communication (IROC2), weighed in on the debate, noting that “Facebook is designed for anyone of any age in any location to share thoughts, ideas and interests. That includes kids and parents as well as criminals and principals.”

Guerry posed an intriguing question: Would parents who have an issue with the principal’s actions really want him to ignore potential problems — especially when he has an opportunity to protect their children before something happens?

Hoving should “be commended for caring and protecting his students,” according to Guerry.

Consider real-life situations that have happened as a result of irresponsible online activity. Just a few examples include:

What’s your take? Is this principal crossing the line — or just protecting his students?

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  • Maureen

    I make it a policy not to friend anyone under 18 and, further, not to friend my friends’ children. I think it’s a conflict of interest for adults, event well-meaning adults, to friend children. The principal’s stated goals of promoting the school, connecting with alumni and increasing communications with parents could be achieved with a page for the school instead of a personal page for himself.

    The effort should be at teaching kids how to use this new medium safely and to protect themselves, and one another, from bullying, predators, and the like. Having said that, I see the arguement for an extra pair of protective adult eyes in a community where we might be able to detect kids at risk. I don’t think this should be done by a single individual like the principal.

  • Coach Tom

    Judging from the name of the school, I would guess that it is Catholic. If a parent sends their child to a Catholic school, they agree to a certain standard of moral and ethical behavior. There is no such thing as a part time Catholic, Jew, Muslim, or Baptist. If that includes monitoring Face book, so be it. Parents can avoid any potential problems if they act as responsible mentors for their children and monitor Face book themselves. However, I would guess that those parents who complain the loudest do the least to monitor their child’s computer activity. They often forget that children need parenting – not liberation; they need guidance- not expectations that they will always make adult decisions. They don’t need parents to be their friend – they need them to be there to hel[p them overcome obstacles and to learn how to make right decisions in life. Unfortunately, there is more to the story then meets the eye. Educators are being forced to take on more of the parental responsibilities of the parent because our country is being flooded with incompetent individuals who think they are parents. Children are not being taught at home basic civility and manners; how to dress in school; how to be fiscally responsible; how to have empathy for those in need; how to treat members of the opposite sex with dignity and respect; how to be accountable for their behavior; to value education; to commit to service to others and their country. I will say this – you can trace all the problems with poor student performance to lack of parenting. Bravo to this principal for having the guts to stand up and lead his academic community in the right direction.

  • augrad

    If the students have an issue with him seeing what they post, they should unfriend him. It’s that simple. Otherwise, watch what you post or suck it up.

  • Pam S

    I don’t see that he is crossing a line. Anyone who uses facebook should realize that what they post will be seen, especially if they add someone as a friend. I’ve heard that companies look people up on facebook before they hire them. It sounds like he is looking out for the students well being and not doing anything inappropriate.

  • Adair

    Personally, I think it’s wonderful that the principal cares enough for his students who “friend” him that he would “counsel” them if he sees questionable posts. I believe the parents would be very upset if he didn’t and their child was somehow hurt by what they posted. They would probably be ready to sue him for not telling them their child was enticing preditors if their child became a victim. Parents need to monitor their kids, first and foremost. But, a principal has a moral obligation to the students under his daily supervision as well. Bravo to this principal. He cares … too many don’t.

  • Cyndie

    Facebook can be used as a positive thing………..and I appauld Mr. Hoving for using this mediam in a positive manner.
    I am really tired of all the bad press Facebook gets.
    As I remind my students and my own children, Facebook is a public forum, don’t put anything out there that is not for public knowledge.
    It is a fun way to communicate and stay in touch!

  • http://www.derekdevries.org Derek DeVries

    The principal is totally within his rights to take note of what students who friend him are doing.

    That said, however, there are a couple of things he needs to consider:

    1) He’s making a social pact with the students by accepting their friend requests to act like a friend to them – which means that if he sees inappropriate behavior, the more appropriate response may be a gentile caution as opposed to cracking down with formal discipline. Doing that will not only allow him to build trust with the students – but possibly even have a greater impact on helping them behave responsibly than if he were a taskmaster that handed out detentions.

    2) While he has the right to watch what the students who friend him are doing – he has absolutely no right to look into the personal business of the FRIENDS of those students who haven’t friended him.

    The unfortunate trend of administrators at all levels (be they church groups, schools or employers) is to begin friending subordinates with the goal of spying on OTHER subordinates that don’t lock down their Facebook profiles. The instant he punishes a “friend of a friend” for their conduct on Facebook – he loses credibility with the entire student body (and probably with parents too).

  • Manny

    Some great responses thus far. Coach Tom, I couldn’t have said it better. Bravo!

  • Fred Austin

    On the surface, his intentions may seem to be admirable and providing teaching moments to his students. As some previous posters have commented that as long as discipline is not involved it will truly be a guidance to the students. What lies deeper though is the breaching of the role of a teacher/mentor/coach and their relationships to the students. You are not their friend, you are their teacher. As long as the principle keeps his private life off of that profile and is representing the school and its staff, then fine. I concur that many parents should be more proactive when it comes to social networking of their children whether online or off. If he does not have explicit permission of the students and their parents to be “judgmental”, in the role of a teacher rather than as their peers, of their behaviors away from school then it is off limits! He is stretching privacy rights, even if the students do friend him. If he friends the students under the explicit role of principle, and those guidelines are stated in their Student Handbook on the expected online conduct of the students, then they have agreed to this role. This is a complex issue and merits great disccussion. I do not recommend any teacher friending a student under any premise.

  • http://none Darlene Burgi

    Great responses in support of Mr. Hoving. I, too, support his effort and allow Coach Tom’s words to speak for me. That doesn’t mean I think I was a perfect parent; I simply feel parents who get involved in their child’s life, school, church and support those others who are trying to raise a responsible generation do what it best for their child. Manipulation that is divisive, no matter the source, is destructive to the child and the community. I have been a teacher, I support teachers, but there are times when I have disagreed with a teacher and have confronted that situation. The important thing is to overcome false pride and hold the best interest of the child and his education toward self-reliance and interdependence FIRST.

  • Paul Kelley

    If he is using school discipline for activities on Facebook then there is a line crossed. Otherwise he is doing what a role model should do. Which is to provide a reminder how to properly behave. There are people who stop that kind of activity in real life. Why should it be any different on the internet?

    The current societal view is that the parent is responsible. Gone is the idea that the village raises the children. The parents are offended because the actions of their children reflect on them. Their view is that no one but them can discipline the child but them.

  • Principal Greg

    As a public school high school principal, I think Hoving’s actions are a terrible idea. While utilizing
    technology (i.e. Twitter, social networks, etc.) to commuicate with familes and promote a school is relatively common practice now amongst school administrators, friending students creates an inappropriate boundary for both the students and the principal.

    And…. I just can’t ignore Paul Kelley’s comments:

    Kelly says, “If he is using school discipline for activities on Facebook, then there is a line crossed.” This is completely incorrect. In cases which off campus activities have a clear nexus to school, creating potential or real threat or disruption the aministrator would be considered legally negligent to ignore off-campus activity (like Facebook postings). The generally accepted practice would be to deal only with what is brought to the attention of the administrator by a parent or student—-not to go play police force for the world by searching the internet for wrong doing. Here’s an example: Parent A approaches Principal Greg with information that Parent A’s child was being bullied on Facebook by Student B. If Student B posts on Facebook, “I’m going to beat the crap out of Student A in gym tomorrow,” and this is brought to the principal’s attention, they have a resonable duty of care to become engaged in the matter. If the principal didn’t address the situation that Parent A had brought to the principal’s attention, and Student A was injured by student B in gym the next day, the principal would be negligent. Of course there are unlimited nuances in situations like these. It just isn’t as simple what happens off campus is not the school’s business. The principals I know wish it wasn’t their business though.

    Kelley also says, “The current societal view is that the parent is responsible.” I couldn’t disagree more. Having worked in school administration for 16 years, I can tell you that If Mr. Kelle’s view is that he is responsible for his children and their actions, he is unfortunately part of a decreasing segment of society. When kids do dumb kid things, bully other kids, fail classes, get cut from teams, get caught drinking during school lunch—–these things are the fault of the school not the parents (and certainly not the kids.)

    Ok, that;s all from me.

  • Buddy

    Frankly, I think Facebook needs some regulation placed on it. Anybody can place any comment they want to on it whether it’s true or not. They can also take anybody’s privacy from them by posting things they know which are nobody’s business except the person about whom the information is being posted; things they have heard (gossip) whether true or not; and they can vindictively smear the reputation of anybody they have a grudge against.

    Facebook is a travesty of good citizenship and the person who created it should be liable for allowing people to do the things I wrote about above.

  • kenneth

    I agree whole heartedly with coach Tom. The biggest problem we have in schools is plain poor parenting. The kind of behavior teachers have to put up with is rediculous. The fact that kids have to be fed at school before they go to class is yet another lack of parental ability. If they don’t have food at home for breakfast and we have all of these social supports (food stamps) and they still don’t have food then what good is the food stamp program. Or is it because again because of the choices being made by parents who don’t have a damned clue. If they aren’t using the social programs to help themselves, then I have to ask the question where is the family support for these bad parents? Absent! Just as the Grandparents who were more then likely absent to bring up the now incapable parent of their Grand child. And so it goes on and on. A good number of these parents usually don’t have a faith either so it just goes along that the government has to be their everything in their life. These individuals end up turning to Democrats or socialist so they can have more wealth spreading toward their lack of individual responsibility. The problem with that is it doesn’t replace bad parenting it just encourages it. That in nut shell is a big reason why our educational system is broke. Couple that with no child left behind and you have teacher spending more time dealing with lack of parenting child then you do with the child who is disciplined and wanting to learn. If this man sees away to off set yet another major problem, internet bulling more power to him. All that has to happen is that his face book is monitored by the school board. I think this is a great principle. Get off his back and get on his side. Help him! Then you will know what he is doing. Otherwise start parenting. Get the Lord in your life. You don’t have to have a computer to do that.

  • Anita

    Students who invited the principal to be a friend had to understand that he would see their posts. C’mon now.

    Also, is it the students who are upset, or are the parents just upset that their little darlings didn’t get to do what they wanted, when they wanted without having someone with some sense suggest a better path to them?

  • Country Girl

    I don’t really see a problem with what he is doing. He is transparent and the students know they are asking the principal to be their friend. If he is truly “counseling” them on what is right or wrong, I don’t have an issue.

    Where I do have an issue is where our school administrators set up a fake FB page of teenage ficitious girl. Got to be friends with several students, then punished them with suspensions because of comments they made on Facebook about a teacher.

    Of course administration denies any of it. But how strange that when all this broke loose, that Facebook page mysteriously disappeared!

    This is where school administrators are completely in the wrong and are trying too hard to sneak into the private lives of our teenagers.

  • Ted Johnston

    I don’t see anythingwrong with the principal is doing. I’m a college professor and my students can “friend” me if they want. But remember “friend” on facebook doesn’t really mean “friend,” but “contact,” so I don’t think any lines are being crosed. It’s just another way of communicating.

  • Char Lee

    Ask Tyler Clementi’s family and friends if they think digital social sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace are regulated enough. Or Megan Meier’s family. Or Kevin Whitrick, Phoebe Prince, and every other person out there who has been cyberbullied. There aren’t enough regulations in place, and parents often fail to do their jobs, so if teachers and principals step up to the plate, don’t complain.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carolynmasters1 Terri Main

    When will people stop trying to “friend” people they don’t want to know their business. Set your privacy settings on FB and don’t friend anyone you don’t want to know what is posted on FB. And if someone oversteps, unfriend them. I do that with people who use foul language or post suggestive pictures. And if they annoy me, I dump them. It’s like calling someone on the phone, telling them your personal business and not expect them to listen.

    Now, if the principal required all students in his school to friend him, then there is a problem.

    Personally, I don’t friend current students on my personal page. I think that is a bit of a dual relationship that you don’t need. I have two pages for certain classes like the computer mediated communication class I teach. I tell the students they can create a separate account for that class if they wish using a different email address and that they can “unfriend” me after the course is over.

    None of them have made new pages or have unfriended me.

    I would not, however, try to punish them for anything they post. I have emailed a few and suggested more discretion for their own sakes. But that’s part of what I teach in the course – personal online security.

  • http://FaceBook Mark

    Good. About time someone woke up and smelled the coffee. Good Job John Hoving. Too bad he has to do the job of being a parent. Having gone to a Catholic school myself. It seems that the students and parents who are overindulged has not changed. The students need to ” grow up ” and the parents need to support him.

    As far as Principal Greg; be glad your young adults do not attend his school.

  • Candace Elmore

    As the computer lab aide in an elementary school, I will not friend any student in my school. I am not their friend. I am their teacher. I am, however, creating a lesson using Facebook. I am looking for all my 6th grade students on Facebook, then will create the lesson using about privacy and security. I will not name them, show their page or embarrass them, but I will make explicit the need for privacy. This past summer, a young man apparently trolled Facebook for girls from a local high school. When one girl friended and responded to him, he groomed her until he eventually involved her in the random murder of the girl’s uncle. She would never had met this person without Facebook.

    I have 3rd and 4th graders with Facebook pages, so it’s not too early to teach internet safety and privacy.

    That said, I would never try to exert any discipline, or share anything with the principal unless someone’s safety was threatened.

  • jdarmine

    No he absolutely did NOT overstep his bounds. The problem is not the principal but the reality of how facebook eliminates presumption of confidentiality. Facebook has some pretty serious costs to confidentiality, and clearly puts those who use it in harms way.

  • http://calibrary.edublogs.org Eric Bateman

    If this principal truly wanted to “promote the school, connect with alumni, and increase communication with parents,” he should have created a Facebook PAGE to use as a professional connection with his target audience, according to a set of guidelines for the appropriate use of social networking. Starbucks wants to promote their product, connect with potential customers and increase communication with current customers… but they don’t want to be friends with 14 million people.

  • http://yahoo Jackie

    If the students at this school were to “get into trouble” the parents and community would say”Where were the teachers and administration.” People always have something to complain about. Nobody forced kids to friend request this principal and he wasn’t pretending to be anyone else, so it should be a none issue. The fact that the principal cared enough and took the time to go the extra mile shows me that he is looking out for the best interest of his students and that he is going above and beyond the requirements of his job. He should be praised not punished.

  • The Philosopher

    The facebook has two sets of content. That which is private, and that which is not. If a person, ‘friends’ another person, they sacrifice that level of privacy. It is also a social environment in much the same way a mall was at one time, with kids meeting up, and adults passing through. If you look at facebook in the same context as a mall, this would be like a student asking her principle if he wanted an empty seat at a restaurant, and then the student proceed to tell another friend about what illegal or irresponsible action she was about to do that night.

    Would a principle, in a public space, be in a position to intervene if a student said something in passing once s/he invited the principle into the conversation? What ever you answer should correlate to your answer in the real situation.

    Face book is a new reality in the social society. Relationships to it do not correlate to real life relationships. If a child joins the fan page to a popular rock band, a museum, book store, school, or principle, it opens up a certain level of privacy. If student’s want to friend a place, they can determine what level of privacy that want to give up. If the students are using facebook and do not understand this, their parents are failing to parent their children. It sounds like the facebook account was being used in an official capacity, and was not a ‘personal’ facebook account. With this said, I would expect that a statement be added to the school policy about this.

    When I teach a philosophy class, I will sometimes probe a class roster to look at the interests of the students. This way, I can talyor examples in the beginning of the semester in a way that would interest them. What they ‘put out there’ which is better today than it was, is in the public sector. One student had pictures of her doing ‘keg stands’ and I discreetly pulled her aside and talked about public vs. private sector and maintaining a professional image. Most employers (well over 1/2) look at these profiles before making hiring decisions. This principle is acting in such a way that will benefit the students in the long run. I decided not to ‘like’ my school, work, or professional contacts for this very reason. I also keep my profile locked down tight…..

  • http://educationtechnews.com/facebook-friends-is-this-principal-going-too-far/ jastout

    Children AND parents should realize the potential consequences of what is being posted on any website, even a limited access website such as Facebook. Future schools, employers, etc, often scan though pages to see what kind of people their applicants are. So beware of not only what you say about yourself, but what others are posting about you. In addition, not everyone is aware that once ANYTHING is posted on Facebook, it is considered published, and all rights and ownership belong to Facebook, and that ownership is protected under copyright law. Even deleted, Facebook has backup copies of everything that have been posted, so nothing posted is every completely eradicated. Poems, songs, artwork, your secrets… all no longer are your personal property, but legally that of Facebook. Another point to mention, is that no matter what group you belong to, school, sports team, club, you are their representative, 24/7. So if you do something embarrassing to the group, then the group always have ways to make sure there are consequences to their embarrassment. That is a fact of life that if a parent doesn’t care to teach the child, inevitably it will make itself clear. If Mr. Hoving is trying to educate his Facebook “friends”, than he deserves kudos, and not condemnation.

  • Eva Pieper

    Whatever…don’t post it if you can’t handle people seeing it and reacting to it! Isn’t that the point of Facebook? It’s a social network, not a diary hidden in your underwear drawer. THINK before you post, and take responsibility for what you put out there!

    Parents…how about teaching your kids to be appropriate instead of getting angry at a principal who is doing your job for you. And here’s a new one: stop trying to bail your kids out and let them be responsible for the consequences of their decisions.

  • Teacher in IL

    Principal Greg’s last paragraph is a truism. Failure is now seen as the school’s fault. Absentee parenting and lack of work ethic now have nothing to do with failure. Schools fail when they allow poor effort to be rewarded and academic slothfulness to be acceptable. Teachers who raise the bar for high expectations are villified by parents and administrators alike. Education is a triangle with students/parents/teachers. All three have to be in place for things to work right. No wonder we are falling behind other nations when being average is considered exceptionally and terrible is considered anyone but the student’s failure. Failure now means a student should be in SP ED, have a 504 plan for more time and help, 2 guided or tutored studies and anything else the schools can fund because it is unrealistic to expect students to work diligently outside of class on a nightly basis. Oh, and let us make sure that mutliple second languages are offered too since learning English is not a priority. Our two-tiered society is in place: college-educated folks with work ethics along with the superwealthy (who whine about the minimum wage) along with high-skilled blue collar worker VS the under-educated masses struggling to make money as they blew off school and have few skills nor knowledge. These folks will never go new car shopping nor own a home.

  • http://billgx.edublogs.org Bill Genereux

    The standard school response to such things is to block the offending technology, and to behave as if it doesn’t exist. Kudos to the principal for being there for the kids. It is a little like the problem of sex education. If you ignore it and act like it doesn’t exist, the kids are left to figure it all out on their own. It’s not a good approach for learning about sex, nor for learning about online behavior.

    Personally, I would unblock Facebook at schools, and encourage teachers to develop engaging and rigorous learning activities utilizing the technology. The typical example I’ve seen is to have students create a Facebook profile for a historical figure, then write appropriate status updates that the person would have said. If more teachers took this tack, the principal wouldn’t have to be the lone voice in the wilderness.

  • http://annedemanser.blogspot.com/ Anne De Manser

    A great post and some excellent comments. Thank goodness the discussion about the use of social media is now taking place so openly. Hopefully it will help to demystify and remove some of the negative hype surrounding the use of social media to communicate with parents and students.

    Thanks to Ted for pointing out that facebook’ friends’ are actually just contacts. Once people get their head around this idea then I think a lot of the negativity and fear about teacher/ student communication via facebook and other sites will dissipate.

    For the record, I accept students on my facebook contacts whenever they request it. In doing so they know I can see what they post and I know they can see what I post. I think it helps us all to remember how we act when we are in a public space. If they post information I think is inappropriate, I do just what I would in any other circumstance outside of school. I model the correct behaviour and sometimes I have a quiet conversation with them about how they think other people are perceiving their actions. I have had many students and their parents tell me that they appreciate my presence in their online space.

    ‘Online’ is just another public place this principal might have contact with his students. Just like ‘in the playground’ or ‘down the street’ or ‘at the sports event’. Do critics expect him to ignore his students there as well?

    Anne De Manser

  • http://Facebook Magie

    Why are the parents upset? I read the article but not the subsequent comments. Seems to me the parents should be monitoring their own children. They are fortunate he is willing to help kids at this age of understanding and making their own decisions before they yet have wisdom that comes with age, growth, and experience.

  • Macherb

    This is a self correcting situation. The students are requesting to friend him, not the other way around. If he ever “invades their privacy” or uses information discovered on Facebook to discipline a child, the other children will immediately unfriend him. With all of the flaws with it’s default privacy settings, Facebook does put the poster in the drivers seat. You only share what you put out there and only with those who you want to. You can also change the settings to increase or decrease levels of access including un friending someone.

  • http://mylifeinperu.com Kelly

    “If he is using school discipline for activities on Facebook then there is a line crossed. Otherwise he is doing what a role model should do. Which is to provide a reminder how to properly behave. There are people who stop that kind of activity in real life. Why should it be any different on the internet?”

    Exactly right.

    If the principal was walking through the park and saw your kid involved in drugs or something dangerous, wouldn’t he feel obligated to talk to the child? Or to the parents?

    Why would Facebook be any different?

    I absolutely do not understand a parent who would be upset with this – I would hope administrators at my children’s school would behave the same.

  • D.S.

    Responsible adults must say something when they see youth behaving irresponsibly. This is just an example of the principal using a real life situation to teach kids to use technology responsibly.

    All educators need to take time to help kids use technology appropriately. In fact, teaching kids to use technology responsibly is a national technology standard.

  • Emily K.

    I have mixed feelings about this topic. On one side, I feel like Hoving is doing the right thing when questioning his student’s material on the web. If students are sending him friend request, then he has the option and right to read their profiles and look at their pictures. However, students do not have to send him a request, or be friends with him. On facebook, the user decides who they want to be friends with. If I were one of Hoving’s students, I would not want to friend request him.

    On the other hand, I feel strongly about not mixing business with pleasure. Therefore, if students friend request Hoving, I feel like he should ignore their request. They will then have access to his profile and could question his behaviors outside of the classroom like he does with the students. Also, why would he want his students seeing what he does outside of school?

  • Katie V.

    I agree that Principal Hoving is indeed overstepping his boundaries. It is not the Principals responsibility to monitor students’ activities outside of school, unless of course, the activity is school related. I agree that it is an educators responsibility to encourage healthy and appropriate behavior from their Students both in and outside of school, but once the student is at home, it should be the parents job to make sure their child is behaving properly. Adults should correct inappropriate behavior, but at the appropriate time and place. Not invading their Facebooks.
    Appropriate use of technology should be taught and practiced in schools, but educators should inform parents of these uses so they can monitor their child’s use of social networking outside of school. Although technically children are not entitled to much privacy, it is an inappropriate use of technology on the Principals part to be friend requesting students and then commenting on their behaviors outside of school. A student could perform very well in school, but have too much fun over the weekend, and they should not be penalized for this in school. Yes, Facebook is being used in the professional world for hiring purposes, and students should learn this in school. It is their personal choice if they want to share inappropriate information with the world. If their parents or friends do not correct them even after they have been taught this in school, then tough luck. They will learn from their mistakes. Finally, Principal Hoving’s purpose for the cite were to promote the school, connect with alumni, and increase communication with parents. Friend requesting and accepting students and judging their lives via information on Facebook does not support any of the mentioned purposes.

  • Sarah

    I think that it is great that the he cares enough about his students to keep them safe. The students need to learn what is appropriate for the internet and if their principal is the one that has to be the one to tell them then so be it. If they don’t want to hear/see what he has to say then they did not have to friend request him.

  • Shay L

    I am an avid facebook user myself and I try to keep much of my information as private as possible. As far as my opinion about whether Hoving is doing the right thing by accepting friend requests from students who attend his school is I believe he is not doing anything wrong. Facebook is a public networking site where whatever you put up on your page can be read and viewed by anyone who has access to the internet. If when he accepts the friend requests he looks at the page just to browse that is perfectly fine. If he keeps going to the page on a regular basis that is another issue. I would hope that Hoving only goes to the students’ pages if he reads something in their status or someone else’s that cause harm to the student. As far a regular check ins I believe that is wrong because in my mind that is something that the parents should be doing. The basic line is, if there is something on the students’ site that they would rather not have their principal to see then don’t friend request him or put him on a restricted view. Ultimately it is the students’ decision what the world sees.

  • Ashley C

    I do not believe the principal is doing anything wrong. I think the parents should question their children as to why he or she friended the principal in the first place. If students want to keep their social life seperate from their academic life, then do not invite the head of your academics to view things that occur in your social life. If the principal sees something on a student’s facebook that could negatively effect his or her future, I do think that he has an obligation to let that child know. As far as being able to punish the student with detention, suspension, etc., I think that may be taking it too far. However, notifying the child and or his or her parents is a good idea and will only serve to benefit the child in the future.
    Schools should hold an assembly, or have a specific class atleast once a year to notify students of the effects information posted on the internet can have on a person’s future. The speaker at these assembly’s should be extrememly knowledgeable about the subject area and show students about the privacy settings, and exactly how to only let close friends view their facebook.
    As long as the principal is not friend requesting students, I see nothing wrong with what he is doing.

  • DKD

    I do not think it is right that the principal is monitoring students online activities. As far as I am concerned a student is allowed to do what they want , in moderation, during their free time and social lives outside of school. It is up to the student to make sure what they do is appropriate, healthy and socially acceptable. Students need to learn to do this themselves and the principal should be concerned with his own social life and matters rather than the students. It would be one thing if the students inappropriate activities on Facebook took place in the school but if it is on their own time that is a lesson they will have to learn from. Also the students should not be friend requesting the principal in the first place, I have heard many teachers say that they refuse to get a facebook because they don’t want their students to request them as friends. Although I do feel what the principal is doing is not right at the same time I do not feel bad for the students because by friend requesting the principal they are making themselves vulnerable to what he is doing.

  • ARF 318

    I do not think it the principal should have a facebook, because all of his points on why he has the facebook can be done more effectively in other mannors. he says he wants to promote the school, which can be done by having a school website, having the teachers get involved around the community and many other ways. Facebook does not necessarily promote the school, in fact it may cause controversy towards to the school which it obviously did. The connection with alumni is already done by those students and they can get in connect with the school if they desire to since his email can be obtained by simply calling the school. Lastly if i was a parent i would not want to communicate with the principal through facebook because that is extremely not personal. updates through email will help keep me involved in the schools events as well as any issues with my child. overall it is unnecessary for him to have a facebook, i can see where he is coming from but other forms of technology that are more formal would be better. facebook is a world to express yourself and communicate with peers and family, with him having a facebook he will learn more about the drama of teh students, rather then reaching his goals.

  • Tunisia W.

    As a soon to be professional educator I think it’s important to have boundaries between you and your students. There are far too many implications that can be made between a student and their instructor that can be misinterpreted as predatory, intrusive, or otherwise inappropriate.

    In the case of Principal Hoving, I think he should have used some discretion in “friending” his students. His students obviously wanted him to be apart of their social network by offering the invitation. However, it is the parents who are upset, not the students. I agree with question he presented: “Would parents who have an issue with the principal’s actions really want him to ignore potential problems — especially when he has an opportunity to protect their children before something happens? ” I think any responsible parent would want an administrator to intervene when they see a student in trouble. But for all other instances I think parents see it as stepping out of the “authority zone” and into the “friend zone”. And many parents don’t want there children being in the “friend zone” with their educators.

    Personally, I would stay away from “friending” my students on any social network. Especially if they are between elementary and secondary school. I may reconsider the option once they reach college. Only because I may be looked upon as a mentor or reference, but for those reasons only.

  • Catherine H.

    I do not disagree with what the principal is doing but I do not 100% agree either. He is entitled to be on Facebook and he will definitely reach a lot more people on there than on a website. However, I don’t really think I would want my son to be friends with his principle on Facebook. The students chose to friend him so they can unfriend him at anytime but chances are the students that friended the principle are probably not the ones who are doing anything inappropriate.

    All students do need to understand that they are responsible for what they put on the internet and there are consequences to their actions. Today it’s the principle tomorrow it’s there boss. I don’t think it’s the principles job to monitor the students facebook pages but if he sees something disturbing or that causes concern then he obligated to adress it with the parents and the student.

    I don’t think the principle is doing anything wrong but I would not want to be Facebook friends with my students. There needs to be a separation of personal and professional lives.

  • Brittany

    I support Mr. Hoving and his decsion to correct students if they are posting something inappropriate on their Facebook pages. ALL people, not just students, need to understand the responsibility that comes along with posting things on the internet.

    Also, this may give parents an insight into what their children are like on the internet. A person could act one way in person and have a completely different persona online. If a stuent posts things that should be brought to the parents attention and Hoving can help with that, I don’t see the problem. If the student has an issue with it and doesn’t want the pricipal to see every thing they post, then there are different security settings on Facebook that can be set to block certian people from seeing certain parts of your page.

    According to Hoving, he does not send his students a friend request, they send him requests. The students should know the risks they take when they send an adult, especially the principal of thier school, a friend request. As long as Hoving uses his Facebook page for what he says (reconnecting with alumni, promote the school, and connecting with parents) then I don’t see a problem with him having a Facebook.


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