The Waynesboro Area School Board took steps Tuesday to narrow the scope of proposed changes to the district’s bullying policy, saying school administrators should not be policing social media posts that originate at home.
The school board discussed a proposed update to its bullying policy, specifically the mention of online cyberbullying. At a previous meeting, some board members started to question the portion of the policy that concerned cyberbullying that starts outside of school, but affects the school environment.
“I don’t like it in general in that it’s over-broad,” board member Firmadge Crutchfield said Tuesday.
Solicitor James Flower said the “outside of school” portion of the policy was designed to include bullying remarks that are posted from a home computer.
“If you remove that, it becomes harder to discipline for cyberbullying,” Flower said.
The school board is expected to adopt a finalized bullying policy update in March.
The section about activities outside of school should be removed from the policy, board member Sherry Cline said.
“If you take that out, how do you prove where they logged onto Facebook to do that?” board member Rita Daywalt asked, saying it could be difficult to determine what online posts were made in school.
Waynesboro Area Senior High School Assistant Principal Brian Richter told the board cyberbullying is now involved in one-third of discipline cases. He said it can be difficult to determine from whom online remarks are generated, so he often refers concerned parents to the police department.
School administrators become involved if the online comments mention the school, Richter said. The first step in discipline is a conversation, rather than threats of suspension or expulsion, he said.
“This is just a cyber version of ‘he said, she said,’” Richter said.