Back in January I wrote a blog relating to a policy the Hampton School Board was working on which would censor what employees could say with the threat of being sued or fired if they said anything prejudicial to the interest to Hampton City Schools. The statement was so vague it could have even been applied to staff/teachers running for School Board who stated in debates that they disagreed with certain policies. My feeling was it was just a lawsuit waiting to happen and the tax payers would be footing the bill.
Last night the School Board meet and voted on their final version of the policy. Thank goodness they also saw the problem and removed the threat of being sued or fired for this policy. They also went a step further and protected teachers/staff ability for civic involvement in the School Board process by clarifying their concerns more specifically by saying:
The clause “prejudicial to the interest to Hampton City Schools” is defined as speech or actions made with intent to harm Hampton City Schools. It is not intended to discourage employees from attending to procedures for the improvement of Hampton City Schools or promoting matters of public concern involving Hampton City Schools. ”
School Board member Joe Kilgore expressed reservations from the outset that the policy could be “problematic in a lot of different ways.” He said the Board must avoid boxing itself in with a lengthy, complicated policy. Much of the items he suggested be deleted were already covered in existing polices about harassment, ethics and confidential information. (you can read the full story in the daily press but the have a subscription requirement now) Mr. Kilgore also pointed out how other areas had use social media to be beneficial to their schools.
He was focusing the possibilities of implementing something while keeping in mind possible effects their decision could have on the staff , teachers and the citizens. Good job to Mr. Kilgore and all of the Hampton School Board.