We’ve all snapped a picture with our camera phones to post on our Facebook pages or blog sites, but what about the people in those pictures? A proposed change to the Pasco County School District student code of conduct would have required students to get the consent of any other student or faculty member before taking their picture, and especially before posting it to a social networking site or anywhere on the web. However, at its meeting on April 17, the School Board chose to hold off on any such change for now.

Technology is rapidly finding its way into every facet of life, including our school systems. “Students take photos of the white board (in class) as a form of notes, how are we supposed to stop that picture from having another student in it?,” asks District spokesperson Summer Romagnoli. Even though no vote was taken on the 17th the change to the code of conduct is up for a “second reading” next month. “The problem is how to determine consent,” she adds. “Can a minor give consent? Things like that. The goal is to bring our regulations in line with others around the country.”

Principal Raymond Bonti of Wiregrass Ranch High said he could not make a comment on the issue until he knows more about the rule change and how it could affect his school.

However, principal Scott Mitchell of Watergrass Elementary says that the change would have been a non-issue at his school. “We already have rules in place to prevent unwanted photos,” says Mitchell, adding that it would more likely affect middle and high school students.

The issue is not dead, however; the School Board is looking into other ways of addressing unwelcomed photography (and the displaying of photos) in its policy manual. There have been revisions made to protect students in areas where privacy or confidentiality could be compromised. This revision prohibits the use of cameras and other electronics in all locker rooms, restrooms and school clinics.

With more and more schools embracing technology for educational purposes, the use of electronic devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.), which was once prohibited, is becoming more frequent and is even encouraged in some cases. While texting in class, answering a phone call during school hours, etc., are still frowned upon, students are still able to utilize their devices now more than ever before. – JM

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