The Governor signed legislation, P.L.2014, c.2 (S-441 (Ruiz/Allen)), April 24 that requires school districts to adopt policies concerning electronic communications between employees and students.
Specifically, the newly enacted legislation requires school districts to adopt a written policy concerning electronic communications between school employees and students enrolled in the district. The policy must include provisions designed to prevent improper communications between school employees and students made via e-mail, cellular phones, social networking websites, and other Internet-based social media.
The law defines "electronic communication” as "a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular phone, computer, computer network, personal data assistant, or pager. Electronic communications include, but are not limited to, e-mails, text messages, instant messages, and communications made by means of an Internet website, including social media and social networking websites."
Districts have 120 days to comply withthe new law by adopting a written policy concerning electronic communications between school employees and students. The New Jersey School Boards Association has developed a model policy entitled, “Electronic Communication by School Staff,” that may serve as a basis for those districts who do not have a policy yet in place. That policy calls for an annual orientation by school superintendents or principals with staff on the use of communication devices in school. Also covered is a discussion of staff members’ own use of social networks.