Some schools now monitor students' social media sites

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by Karen Hopkins, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 7:32 PM

NORFOLK -- Schools nationwide have begun hiring companies to monitor students' social media accounts to detect threats as soon as the words are typed.

One superintendent in California, Richard Sheehan, said his school had a high-profile suicide on one of their campuses.

After a student took his own life in California’s Glendale Unified School district, Sheehan contracted the company Geo Listening to watch Facebook and Twitter posts of middle and high students.

Virginia Beach technology expert Eric Rogers explained schools can legally track your kids' public posts online, but it's not that easy.

"They could just change their Facebook page or make it private," Rogers said.

13News Now contacted all school districts in Hampton Roads.  None of them say they are planning to hire companies to track students' social media.

"We're in the business of educating and not spying on students," Virginia Beach school board member Leonard Tengco said.

Money is another concern.

In California's Glendale Unified School district, it costs about $2.90 to monitor each student.  Tracking Virginia Beach's more than 68,000 students would cost nearly $200,000.

"With the budget the way it is right now, we're just doing our best to protect teachers in the classroom from future budget cuts," Chesapeake school board member Bonita Harris said.

But Sheehan thinks it's worth the expense. In the first year, the technology helped them save a life.

"Through posting, long story short, we were able to get a student help before she harmed herself," Sheehan said. 

If you would like to contact your school board members about social media monitoring in Hampton Roads, click on the following links:

NEWPORT NEWS

VIRGINIA BEACH

NORFOLK


PORTSMOUTH

HAMPTON

SUFFOLK

CHESAPEAKE

 

 

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