Digital citizenship can be defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use. This practice has been a part of QAE since we first opened our doors, that it is our collective responsibility to teach and model appropriate behavior all of the time, including online. One of the three areas of focus for QAE is our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program. We emphasize this in our classrooms, on the playground, in the lunchroom; wherever we work together, and it naturally extends into our online lives and behavior.
A foundational belief at QAE is the importance of how we treat each other. Every student receives training through specific SEL curricula taught by Ms. Skoog or Ms. Meyers to develop the skills we believe will lead to citizens who are able to demonstrate their ability to be Kind, Safe and Fair in all parts of their day. In every classroom you can see social and behavior agreements that have been developed by the classroom community, and with the rollout of One to World, classroom communities are now adding technology components to those agreements.
Our focus on developing these resources, and communicating this information to parents in particular is particularly timely because of an incident involving a recent comment posted on a QAE student blog from a non Seattle Public School IP address outside of school hours. There were several inappropriate comments posted at the same time but particularly upsetting and concerning was one comment that made a physical threat. When this comment was discovered by the student’s family, Mr. Jeffrey and I were both contacted immediately. I strongly recommended that this be reported to the Seattle Police Department, which the family did. An SPD investigation into this matter has begun and we are cooperating with all requests for information that have been made so far by the investigating officer.
Last weekend Mr. Jeffrey changed the comment setting on all of the Weebly blogs to moderated. This means that a teacher must approve any comment before it can be posted. Additionally, our staff met yesterday to discuss that decision and discuss if there is anything further that we feel needs to be done. Our discussion focused on student safety and how this might be used to further our understanding of cyber bullying and citizenship in this realm. Further, our PTA-QAE Tech Committee met last night to discuss this incident and further develop our Handbook. It was a consensus among both groups that digital citizenship is taught clearly and often in our classrooms, in our library, and hopefully in our homes.
Transparency in this case has been difficult as there is an ongoing police investigation and a desire to protect the student from classroom discussions about the comments and threat. In any situation where a threat is made, whether a written note, a verbal threat, or a comment posted online, these same procedures would be followed.
I would like to clearly outline some information to help our community understand what has occurred so far:
- Our staff has provided regular support for the student who received the threat and will continue to support the student.
- I encouraged the family to call the Seattle Police Department and we are cooperating with the SPD as they have begun their investigation.
- I called the Seattle Public Schools Security Department and made a report.
- I directed the family to contact our SPS Safety and Security representative.
- We secured the IP address of the computer from which the posts were sent and the address has been turned over to the Seattle Police Department; they are in the process of getting a search warrant.
I would welcome any dialogue on this subject, but do not believe email is the appropriate medium. If you wish to speak to me about this issue, we can set up a time to talk or meet as a group.