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West Hempstead Schools Consider Joining Facebook, Twitter [POLL]

The Board of Education weighs the pros and cons of using social media to connect with the community.

The West Hempstead school district could be getting more "social" if the Board of Education decides to pursue the recommendation of one of its members to join Facebook and Twitter. Currently, the West Hempstead Elementary PTA and West Hempstead SEPTA have pages on Facebook, but the school district itself does not have an official account on either site.

Trustee Cynthia DiMiceli broached the subject during the "Board Privledge of the Floor" period of Tuesday's business meeting, asking if the district could and would be interested in connecting to the community using these soclal media platforms.

"In terms of social media...there’s no expectation of privacy [for users on both sites]," the board's attorney stated at the meeting." The board has to be mindful that it‘s not private."

He also told the board that there would be "control issues" regarding who would be authorized to post messages using the accounts and whether the account manager, or managers, would be permitted to interact with users.

Posting messages or alerts to the community would be "relatively easy," he said. However, if the district were to use "all the available resources" that Facebook and Twitter offer, including the ability to engage in dialogue with other members through comments, "mentions" and direct messages, the situation would be more complicated.

"We shouldn't be scared of technology," said DiMiceli, who gave examples of other local school districts that use social media including Rockville Centre, which has close to 200 Facebook fans, and Garden City, which has 170 Twitter followers. "I do think it’s worth exploring."

The board's legal counsel advised them to look at their existing policies and to also reach out to the local districts using the technology to learn how it works for them, if the board does decide to explore this idea.

Board Trustee Vincent Trocchia, who admitted he had never used either site, said, "I have no problem putting [the information] out there but who’s going to do it?"

His concern was echoed by Board President Walter Ejnes, who said he uses Facebook often for work. "I'm an absolute believer that we should have a Facebook page, but somebody has to monitor it and keep it up-to-date, and it's only a piece of a larger plan [to promote the district]," Ejnes said. "Is now the time?"

Instead, Ejnes suggested the district focus on its Web site.

"Even with our best efforts there are still holes on the Web site," Superintendent John Hogan said.

Do you think the West Hempstead school district should join Twitter and/or Facebook? Vote in our poll below.

Manny Martinez January 24, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Yes. It is long overdue that the WH school district join the Social Media world. The following organizations / individuals have a Facebook page: at least 3 WH Board of Education Trustees, HANC of WH, St. Thomas, St. Andrew's Church, WH PTA, WH SEPTA, Jewish Community of WH, WH Public Library, WH Community Support & Civic Association, WH Chamber of Commerce, Assemblymen Ed Ra, Senator Dean Skelos, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Ed Ambrosino, Malverne-West Hempstead Patch, West Hempstead Herald, as well as numerous senior citizens, businesses, parents, students, etc..
Sue Reichert January 24, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Using Facebook to get the word out to friends and family in West Hempstead (and beyond) about the Green Team's paper drive worked great- probably better than emails and the district wide phone calls. The response was amazing!
R P September 02, 2012 at 02:01 PM
NO. Your legal advisors are right. I stopped using FB due to privacy issues constantly changing and the irresponsibility of Zuckerberg the founder of FB. I am in favor of electronic communication and suggest you either have a BB on your website or use a bulletin board such as Proboards.com or Yahoogroups or something similar which you can have better control.

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