SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT:  Sarah Wahrenbrock

(310) 450-8338, ext. 229

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

08 FEB 2007

 

SMMUSD’S RESPONSE TO LA TIMES ARTICLE REGARDING MALIBU HIGH SCHOOL

 

Today’s Los Angeles Times included an article regarding postings on YouTube.com that depicted images that were purported to be Malibu High School teaching staff, apparently taken without that teacher’s consent or knowledge. 

 

I’ve had discussions today with the Principal of Malibu High School, Dr. Mark Kelly, as well as the teacher in question, and based on those discussions and our own analysis of the video, we believe that much of the video, or at least the audio content has been altered.  Regardless, it is important to note that the content of both this recent posting, and the first posting that came to our attention back in December was fairly routine, and not at all the sort of inflammatory content that was reported in today’s LA Times.

 

This morning, the radio station KNX ran a story citing the LA Times article and played an audio clip that was attributed to a Malibu High teacher.  Dr. Kelly spoke with KNX and they immediately retracted their allegation.

 

 The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District is extremely concerned about this issue, not only from a privacy standpoint, but also from a free speech standpoint.  We believe that protecting the privacy of both students and staff is of paramount importance to our district, and we believe that any policy that we either develop or implement to deal with this issue must take that commitment into account.

 

This issue, the use of new technologies on our school sites, is fairly new to our district, but is of critical importance.  However, our current policy on the use of cell phones, etc. is very clear.  It states:  that “California Education Code specifically prohibits the possession and/or use of any electronic signaling equipment by pupils of the school while the pupils are on campus, while attending school-sponsored activities, or while under the supervision and control of school district employees.”  Exceptions to this policy involve health and other emergencies. 

 

The creation of new technology and the advancement in various fields bring to light new challenges and areas within the educational environment that must be addressed by school Districts.  I would very much like Santa Monica Malibu to collaborate with other Districts to review past and present Board Policies and administrative regulations as well as any that are currently being developed.  We will seek guidance from the California Department of Education, the California School Boards Association, current Education Codes as well as state and federal laws.  We should also seek legal advice.  After gathering information we will discuss needs of our District with the Board of Education. Community input will be sought and a policy that is legally defensible and enforceable will be created.  The focus on the creation of the policy will be to ensure that the safety and security of students and staff is ensured and that the educational environment is not disturbed so that high level instruction and learning can occur.  I look forward to starting this process and hope to report any revisions to our policy that enhance safety and privacy of all the members of our school community to you very soon.

 

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SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338, fax: 310.581.1138

www.smmusd.org