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.
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