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Wayne School District's Instagram Account Draws Ire of Some Parents

Some concerned about using pictures of students online. District said the account is covered by its media release agreement.

Some parents have decided to rescind all rights given to the Wayne Public School District to use their child’s image following the district creating an Instagram account.

Petra Schwarz and Philip Paisnel notified the district earlier this month they would not like their child’s image made public, including on social media sites, the Wayne School District website, and in other media outlets, citing privacy concerns.

“Why does a school, which is a non-profit, have to employ social media? In this day and age, with all these crazy people out there, if someone gets fixated on a kid, who knows what can happen,” said Paisnel, noting that he finds having such an account “irresponsible” of the district. “There is a lot of scary stuff out there and kids can get lured in by online predators.”

The district has 14 posts on the account, which dates back to July; 89 users follow the account. The first post was a group of students at the Wayne Education Foundation’s summer camp; 13 more posts have been made since, including five this month. The post recent post is a 15-second long video of first graders at John F. Kennedy Elementary School learning how to count by singing and clapping their hands. Students are not identified in any of the posts.

The district’s photo and name release agreement covers the Instagram account. The agreement gives the district the right to release a student’s name, grade, and photos or images of him or her.

“If a child’s parents do not permit his or her picture to be released to the media, or used in the media, that child’s picture should not be used in the district’s Instagram account,” said Superintendent Ray Gonzalez.

Russ Warner is president and chief executive officer of Content Watch, a Utah-based company that designs Internet safety software for businesses and private users, including Net Nanny. The software screens out potentially dangerous content while young users are online.

“Three hundred and fifty million photographs are uploaded to Facebook everyday,” Warner said. “Parents really need to be involved in their child’s online life and know what sites they are using online, who they are talking to, and what they are posting online.”

The district also has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+. Success Communications, a public relations firm, manages those accounts. The Board of Education voted 8-1 in July to renew the district’s $30,000 annual contract with the firm, which will expire in July 2014. Residents have spoken out against the move in the media and at board meetings. They have said hiring the firm is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

 “We just want to protect our kids,” Paisnel said. “I’ve seen enough and read enough. People are very sophisticated and parents aren’t always sophisticated enough to deal with all of this stuff that’s out there.”

Editor's note: A quote by Superintendent Ray Gonzalez originally stated that the image of a student that isn't permitted to be released to, or used by, the media could be used on Instagram. The quote has been corrected.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

 

Justice December 10, 2013 at 05:54 AM
Another 30,000? What is another 30,000? Piece of cake. Go to the Bank of Wayne Taxpayers, LLC and withdraw ANOTHER 30,000. No Prob, the Taxpayers are loaded. Keep it coming.
DexterDog December 10, 2013 at 06:41 AM
The superintendent's quote doesnt make sense. Typo?
Cat December 10, 2013 at 01:40 PM
I'm with Petra and Philip on this one.
Meema Judy December 10, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Why would a schools district have an instagram account? Who takes the pictures? Who okay the pictures? Who posts them? Publicity? Why would a schools district need publicity? Children in other towns are not permitted to attend our schools and the children here already do, so what's the point? In this day and age we need to protect as much of our children privacy as we can. The children's welfare should always come first, not the need for 15 minutes of fame.
Pad December 11, 2013 at 04:37 PM
This is just more money being wasted by Spender Gonzalez and his crew. We don't need this and all the problems that could arise from possible lawsuits. The BOE is always crying poverty but they never stop spending our tax money. They always have their hand out looking for more. Meanwhile residents are forced to sell their homes and move out off Wayne due to high taxes.
Karley Connors December 11, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Pictures of students are also posted on the district's Facebook page without the parents knowledge. This is not an acceptable practice. Teachers get in serious trouble for even mentioning something about their students on Facebook and yet the district can post their pictures?
Pad December 11, 2013 at 09:19 PM
While the District post on websites soon some parent will decide to get a lawyer and file a lawsuit and the taxpayers will pay again!
Jack Q December 12, 2013 at 11:47 AM
There is a form that the parent's sign in the beginning of the year where they give permission for the district to use the students' images. This includes the newspapers for any sort of athletic awards as well as the website.

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