Relax plebeians, the state knows what is best…
Saying there is a “responsibility out there” to preserve safety, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said Saturday he supported the Huntsville City Schools’ program to monitor students’ social media accounts.
The program, revealed last week by AL.com and which has become a controversial topic in the community, has been implemented by Superintendent Casey Wardynski and his staff and has led to the suspension or expulsion of four students.
The most controversial elements have been mention of the National Security Agency, which has denied it contacted the Huntsville City Schools regarding any student, and that students, staff and school board members were not advised of the SAF-e program established by Wardynski.
“It’s social media. It’s wide-open to everybody,” Battle told AL.com, defending the latter point. “I’m not sure if people understand that we watch social media from the City of Huntsville. If we see something that is a life-threatening thing or might threaten safety, we look at it and react.”
Battle said in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Todd Brown at Madison’s Discovery Middle School in 2010 by classmate Hammad Memom, “an action group came back with a safety report and part of the recommendation was to monitor social media, all the kinds of pages you could so you knew what was happening with those kids. Looking at what’s happened here, if it makes a kid safer in school, I’m for it.
School Superintendent Casey Wardynski still defends the program and says it is related cyberbulling…
On numerous occasions, in calls to school board members and administrators, and at school board meetings, citizens have voiced their expectations that the school system do more to protect students from bullying, intimidation, and to address threats of suicide that surface in school and online. Some who now object to the school system looking at social media, have previously said schools are not doing enough to protect kids from cyberbullying.
Those asking us to address such issues certainly know that these lower-level threats to student wellbeing frequently occur on Facebook and Twitter away from school. Indeed, by definition, cyberbullying occurs on social media.
Therefore, one wonders how folks who criticize our SAFe program propose that we document and check on allegations of cyberbullying and online threats to the well being of students. We know that kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to suffer emotionally and academically.
Wait, now this is about bullying and not threats of violence?
Let’s just use whatever we can to justify the school system watching your kids 24/7…