weather icon Partly Cloudy

CCSD’s draft policy on staff-student communications a good start, experts say

Updated June 8, 2017 - 5:32 pm

Draft rules on use of social media and other forms of electronic communication unveiled Wednesday by the Clark County School District are a good start, experts say, but there are other areas left unaddressed in the effort to tackle sexual misconduct between staff and students.

“It’s a reasonable start based on what I’ve read,” said Frederick Lane, a board member of the local Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation group and author of “Cybertraps for Educators.” “They touch on a number of issues that I talk to school districts about all the time.”

Staff could only communicate with students on school topics through approved electronic systems, according to the draft policy and regulation. That may include applications or websites that publicly document such conversations.

Staff also could not use personal accounts of any type — including social media or email — to communicate with students “over whom they have direct contact, impact or control.”

In texting, staff would not be allowed to communicate with individual students — but they could communicate with groups of students. Electronic communications of all types would be prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., except in an emergency.

But some other large school districts have additional safeguards — including a pre-written statement that teachers can use when students try to “friend” them on social media.

The draft policy and regulation was developed by a 27-member working group after a string of sexual misconduct cases involving CCSD employees and students. Since last July, 13 staff members have been arrested on various sex charges, an alarming trend explored in the Review-Journal’s recent three-part Broken Trust series. The working group included members of employee unions, the district attorney’s office, principals, administrators and the Clark County School District Police Department, but only one student and no parents.

The draft regulation also reiterates the already existing requirement that all employees pass a background check. They also would be required to obtain a district-issued badge before interacting with students. Administrators who allow people without a badge to have unsupervised contact with students could be disciplined.

Similar to other districts’ policies

The policy will bring the district more in line with other districts across the nation, Lane said. The time restriction on electronic communications and the requirement that staff only interact with multiple students are good policies that have been widely adopted, he said.

But Lane said he was concerned about how well the district would train educators on the policy and keep educators abreast of new social media platforms that are emerging.

“I do think that stuff moves very quickly and new opportunities and new ways of communicating between teachers and students keep coming up,” he said. “In the absolutely stunning speed of Internet communication, people lose sight of these things unless they are given emotional muscle memory. They need to have it drilled in through training.”

It is not yet clear what type of training the district would implement once a policy is adopted.

“The good news is that they are developing a policy,” said SESAME President Terri Miller. “That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s a little confusing in places.”

That includes the rules allowing texts to groups of students, she said.

Miller argued that there is never any need for staff to have the cell phone numbers of students. She noted there are other ways of communication, and remembered communicating with her daughter’s band teacher at Coronado High School through an online system off the school’s website.

“I don’t believe that it’s necessary to exchange personal numbers with students,” she said. “If they want to exchange personal numbers with parents, fine. But I don’t believe that students should have direct personal numbers of their teachers.”

Striking a balance

Members of the group that drafted the rules indicated there was good discussion on balancing technology with education.

“The challenge is making sure that you have the right policies in place so that that safety net is there,” said Desert Oasis High School Principal Kelly O’Rourke, who helped forge the draft. “But we also know that we want teachers and staff members to build healthy relationships with students.”

She said the group wanted to make sure that student-staff communication was in an open forum, involving broad conversations that encompass the whole class rather than just one student.

O’Rourke pointed to phone apps, such as Remind, that document exchanges on a separate platform.

“That’s a perfect example of an approved application, it keeps everyone safe,” she said. “You’re able to quote-unquote text, but it’s on a platform that is open to everybody.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Cheryl Davis, director of the district’s Family and Community Engagement Services division and another working group member, said she wanted to develop a policy that parents also understand. She also cited a provision that would require staff to report any suspicious behavior they see.

“It’s almost impossible for a principal, let’s say at a high school, to really know exactly 24-7 what teachers are doing,” she said. “So that’s why we thought we have to have things in place that made teachers responsible for their own actions — not just teachers, but also support staff.”

The public will be able to offer input on the draft rules at a roundtable at Chaparral High School on June 15, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. An online survey accessible at ccsd.net/protectourkids also is being used to collect feedback.

Contact Meghin Delaney at mdelaney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter. Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 race
Candidates for Las Vegas City Council Ward 1. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke addresses attendees during a campaign stop at Arandas Taqueria in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O'Rourke House Party in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke delivered a message of unity inside a Las Vegas living room Saturday night, outlining a mission to bridge the divide in a polarized America and rally behind “big defining ambitions that we have in common.” (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks at Atomic Liquors
Democrat presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks to her supporters at Atomic Liquors.
Presidential candidate Gillibrand meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys at her first stop in Nevada as a candidate Thursday, March 21, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto promotes the Rebuild America’s Schools Act
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., co-sponsor of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, speaks at Hoggard Elementary School in Las Vegas to promote the bill that would provide $100 billion for infrastructure improvements at schools across the country. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Scholar Max Eden on how restorative justice decreases student achievement - VIDEO
Across the country, restorative justice is lowering test scores and increasing the number of students who feel unsafe at schools. That’s according to Max Eden, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, who recently released a study discipline reform.
NV Dems Want To Gut Read By Three - Video
Nevada’s students have a major problem. They aren’t very good at reading. In 2017, just 31 percent of fourth graders were proficient at reading according to the National Assessment of Education Progress. The number proficient falls to 28 percent in eighth grade. Read by Three could change that. If a student can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade, he repeats the grade.
Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard stumps in Las Vegas
Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a meet and greet at the Asian Culture Center in downtown Las Vegas Monday, March 18, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto