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The Right Note: Sometimes Words Need Clarification

by Mark Kelly April 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm 0

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The Arlington Public Schools are in the process of developing new guidelines for the use of technology in schools.

Like other parents with children currently in our school system, technology is on my mind regularly. My wife and I embrace technology as a tool for learning for our kids, but also realize there are plenty of dangers associated with it. It is a balancing act all parents must wrestle with during these formative years.

There is one provision in the newest policy that could use some further clarification.

Students shall not audio-record, photograph, or video-record other students or school employees on school property, on a school bus or at school-sponsored activities without their knowledge and consent, except for participation in activities considered to be in the public arena (e.g. sporting events, public meetings, academic competitions, or public performances). . . . Audio-recording, photographing, or videorecording of others is strictly prohibited in locker rooms, dressing rooms, health offices and restrooms, where individuals have every expectation of privacy.

Protecting privacy, particularly for students, is a good thing.

But what happens if a teacher or other school employee were to begin threatening a student, or vice versa, and another student turned on their camera? What if a teacher launched into a profanity-laced tirade about an elected official? What if a student was committing a criminal act?

In other words, are there any circumstances where an audio or video recording would be appropriate by a student without consent? Would the school discipline a student who recorded such an incident when the recording is technically a violation of school policy? And are school employees covered by a similar policy?

Hopefully the School Board will consider these questions before adopting the policy.

Under the headline, “Following the Golden Rule can pay dividends in Richmond,” local legislators highlighted the need to build greater understanding with their colleagues from other parts of the Commonwealth, including of course Republicans. Great advice to be sure.

Senator Barbara Favola was quoted as saying, “At the end of the day, it’s really about building relationships — bringing sincerity and honesty.”

But last fall, at a campaign rally for the Democrat ticket, Senator Favola said about Republicans, “They’re evil. We’re the good guys.”

So the question is, which is it Senator Favola? Do you think Republicans in Virginia are evil or worthy of building relationships with? Or does it depend on whether you are trying to whip up Democrat partisans to vote in Arlington versus getting legislation passed in Richmond?

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