Freedom of speech is a right, but is there a line drawn for teachers – KIDY

West Texas school districts have their own way of dealing with how to balance freedom of speech on social media.

SAN ANGELO, Texas Getting our thoughts out has never been easier. With the use of social media, freedom of speech is at the palm of your hands.

With every tweet, post and snapchat a person can use it as a platform to voice opinions.

Many say freedom of speech doesnt mean freedom from consequences.

Earlier this week, a story from Colorado said a teacher was facing dismissal for her comments on her personal social media account.

Does the First Amendment apply to everyone? What about teachers in the community who may have taught students about the First Amendment? Its a very fine line that school districts in West Texas have to address daily.

Christoval High Principal John Choate said the rules have not changed, and social media for teachers is no exception.

"The way the laws are written, the way all the regulations regarding teachers use of digital communication with students, it's really the same," Choate said. "They're under the same expectation that they would be in person."

The Christoval Independent School District is not the only school district trying to police the use of social media without infringing on the First Amendment.

Brownwood Independent School District Director of Human Resources Doug Bonsal referred all questions to the districts employee handbook.

The handbook states "All district employees should perform their duties in accordance with state and federal law, district policies and procedures and ethical standards."

According to the Texas Education Agency, it means the Texas educator should be maintaining the dignity of the profession, shall respect and obey the law, demonstrate personal integrity and exemplify honesty.

Choate does not have the time to police the social media pages of his teachers, and he respects his teachers right to use the First Amendment to post what they want. However, if the post brings negative attention to student, or the school that is where Choate draws the line.

"If a teachers statements or an educator statements on social media constitutes hatred towards these students protected status then it would be a problem," Choate said.

If a problem such as that were to occur, Choate and the CISD administration would have to investigate and act accordingly. Choate encourages everyone to exercise the First Amendment, but when it comes to social media, use whatever you put out there it is hard to take down, and to make sure you are mindful before hitting send.

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Freedom of speech is a right, but is there a line drawn for teachers - KIDY

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