Legal Risks of Your Schools' Social Platforms

by Zachary D. Schurin
School Administrator, ASSA

Pullman & Comley School Law attorney Zachary D. Schurin authored an article that appeared in the May 2024 issue of School Administrator magazine which is published by ASSA, The School Superintendents Association. In the article, Zach outlines the legal risks associated with school-affiliated social media accounts, and provides tips for compliance.

Posting a photo of a school event may seem harmless, but if certain measures are not put into place, you could be opening yourself up to significant risks. The "limited public forum" doctrine governs when a public entity creates a space for public expression, such as the comment space on social media accounts, and its restrictions must be viewpoint neutral. If an administrator deletes offensive comments or blocks individuals, it is no longer neutral. "When a school administrator uses a social media account to engage with school stakeholders and then opens the account up for feedback, selectively censoring comments based on content often runs afoul of the First Amendment," Zach writes. 

It's also critical to ensure any involved parties have not opted out of a disclosure of directory information when posting photos to a school-affiliated social media account. "While most student information that gets posted to social media likely constitutes directory information under FERPA, it is still a good idea to require affirmative parental consent before posting personally identifiable information of a student for the world to see," Zach writes.

To read the full article, please visit the ASSA website.


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