(Editor’s note: The South Orange – Maplewood School District was embroiled in two incidents this week involving students’ social media postings. Read about them here and here. The following is a letter Supt. Dr. John Ramos sent to the SOMSD community on Friday evening):
Dear SOMSD Community:
This week we have responded to several instances of students posting culturally insensitive pictures and comments on social media. School administrators are addressing the individual incidents, using our code of conduct and restorative practices strategies, and engaging community resources to help students recognize and address the effect of their behavior on the school community.
We ask for the partnership of all parents, guardians and community members in helping students understand the impact their words, images and actions can have on other individuals and on our communities. It is also essential that students understand that their use of social media leaves behind a digital footprint, in addition to any immediate impact it may have. Something that may seem like a funny prank today may be found by a potential school or employer in the future, and may negatively impact future opportunities.
Resources to help you guide and monitor your students’ use of social media include:
We know that these recent incidents do not reflect the values of the SOMSD student body as a whole, or the values of the South Orange and Maplewood communities. They do, however, highlight the need for us to really focus on one of the strategies central to our emerging strategic plan: We will infuse cultural competency in every aspect of our learning community.
We look forward to working with families, students and staff to ensure that all students feel comfortable and safe in our schools.
John J. Ramos, Sr., Ed.D.