Prank causes concern over social networking

PLYMOUTH — What started as a prank by two former students has pushed the Plymouth School Corporation into high gear to develop a policy on social networking outside of the classroom.
Two former band students sculpted a 7-foot high snow creation in the front yard of Plymouth band director Bryan Ames’ Knox home. The risque statue depicted a part of the male anatomy.
After the snow sculpture was completed, the students were photographed next to it; and the photo was placed on Ames’ Facebook page. A complaint was made to Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree, who contacted Plymouth High School Principal Jim Condon, who then contacted Ames and asked the picture be removed, which it was immediately. Partly at issue is the fact that more than 1,400 friends on Ames’ site were potential viewers of the photograph.
Ames has been band director for five years, coming from Knox, and has an impeccable record including taking the marching band to the state finals in 2010.
Tyree said that the school is investigating the issue, which could take several days.
“As we complete our investigation, the intentions are to ensure that our students are safe, protect the rights of the people involved, and maintain the reputation of our school,” he said.
Reported Tuesday night and Wednesday morning on area television and radio shows, Tyree had said that there are times “when an employee does something and I think, I really wish they hadn’t done that or wish they hadn’t said that.”
The school has each employee sign guidelines for computer usage at school, but Tyree said nothing covers activity at home.
“Facebook has become a fad so quickly, that the rules of etiquette didn’t get written,” he said. “We’re going to get that done, probably a little faster now.”
The issue has become a hot topic — whether or not a teacher should be held to higher standards in their personal life and on a social networking site.
Several readers responded to the issue:
Michelle Campbell said, “I think it depends who he has on his friend list. If he adds students, their parents, or faculty members, yes, he should be held to a higher standard. Otherwise, he’s just a person too, but he should take steps to make sure his profile is private if he’s going to post anything inappropriate.”
John Reed said, “If it was done publicly, on his own time, on his own computer, then I say he’s entitled to privacy and freedom of speech just as any of us are. It’s not as if it was posted on a billboard in public, you have to want to see his posts by friending him. What he does on his own time, providing it is legal, is his own business, and anyone he allows to view it.”
Mark A Cultice said, “Teachers are held to a higher standard period.”
Jeremy Martin added. “When you make a career decision you need to evaluate all the ways your life is effected. As a teacher, you are a public figure and you better live a relatively clean life if you expect me to turn my children over to you... Discretion should be over utilized as a teacher.”
Jennifer Troyer Cooper said, “Why should teachers be considered higher than parents? We both teach our children, so both should be held accountable. I read the article on WNDU.com and if the kids didn’t see it on his Facebook page, then they just saw it on the news.”
Andrew Dreibelbis said, “As a teacher you are held to a higher standard because of how impressionable you are on your students. As a high school teacher in today’s 24-7 social media world, you have to be even more careful because most of your students have access ... to your personal life via Facebook. Yes, you should have a personal life outside of school, but you don’t have to make everything in your life available on Facebook. If you think something that you post on Facebook could possibly get you in trouble, don’t post it, simple as that. Everyone needs to think before they decide to post anything on Facebook.”

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