PLAQUEMINE — Facebook, and what members of the Iberville Parish School Board should and should not be posting on their personal pages, was at the center of a debate among school district officials Monday night.
The board considered amending the district’s policy, which prevents employees from posting derogatory statements about the school system on social media.
Several board members argued any attempt to police what board members post on social media is futile since board members answer to the voters and not, like employees, to the school district.
The board members also said the district’s current policy would prevent them from sharing even positive information about the school system to their constituents.
But a faction of the board asserted that members should be held to the same standard as employees, pointing out instances where they felt bullied on social media by fellow board members who disagreed with them on school-related matters.
The debate led a majority of the board to table a vote on the measure until its next meeting in April.
During the discussion, board members alluded to a post board member Darlene Ourso made on social media in January regarding a board-approved measure to spend $1.5 million for artificial turf at the Plaquemine High athletic field — an expenditure she opposed. School officials said several board members were tagged in Ourso’s post, and that encouraged Iberville Parish residents to contact the board members in their respective districts.
But Ourso pointed out the board’s attempt to silence her on social media would prevent them from sharing positive news.
Under the district’s current policy, employees cannot use their personal social media accounts to communicate with family members regarding any school or school-board related matters. The same policy also restricts employees from disclosing any confidential information, pictures or school work through personal social media accounts.
“I’ve seen plenty of us tag flyers and everything,” Ourso said. “Do you know how many people look at our pages as board members and get information? This is crazy. If this is approved, you can’t say anything about a meeting. About an open house. About report cards. A football game. Your hands are tied.”
Board member Pam George said she didn’t see any point in revising the policy when the district clearly can’t fire a board member the way it can terminate employees who violate the rules.
Board member Michael Hebert noted the school district’s website already provides accurate information for the public about the goings-on in the school system and that it should serve as the primary source to inform the public.
“This was directly related toward social media bullying,” Hebert said about the proposal to revise the policy. “There’s no doubt about it. Other board members’ names were used (in Ourso’s post). I do not want someone on this board speaking on my behalf on a social media website.”
Board member Chris Daigle, who suggested the board postpone its decision until next month, said he found merit in Hebert’s statements, but he said, “Ms. Darlene brings up some good points about us not being able to post things, according to these guidelines.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.