This is a tough one! The real question becomes not only "Can I?" but also "Should I?"
Recent legislation relating to Personally Identifiable Information (PII) required each school district to establish a means of allowing parents to permit or deny the publication of information about their children. St. Mary Parish collects this information through letters sent to parents/guardians at the beginning of the school year, and a way to track permissions was recently added to JCampus (JPAMS).
Since there is now a method for you to check if permission to publish has been granted by a parent, you must do so before you would even consider posting an image of a student to the web.
Now, SHOULD you post images? Please remember that you can be held legally responsible for anything you post that becomes an issue later on, even if you post with the best intentions.
Here are some guidelines if you feel you must use photos of students (and adults) on your teacher website:
- Make sure that permission for publication has been granted for every identifiable person in the image.
- Why? Images of others should never be posted online without their permission, for both legal and ethical reasons. This includes adults!
- Consider posting images with limited accompanying text.
- Why? You are posting to a public website; there are no privacy settings on our webpages. Posting an image with a caption could easily provide unscrupulous individuals with a student’s first and last names, age, gender, grade-level, teacher, school name, and even map to the school location. Guidelines for school sites often recommend never posting the full names of students OR at least keeping names separate from images.
- Use discretion when selecting images for online publication.
- Why? Posting any image online makes it a part of the permanent record for individuals. A funny photo today may be embarrassing in 10 or 20 years.
- A slideshow using the Photo Gallery app might be a good solution for sharing good things that happen in your classroom, and group photos (untagged) of children in action are always safer than full-face photos of individual students.
- Why? Once an image is posted, it can be taken by others for unintended purposes; these include online stalking, image misappropriation, and cyberbullying.
Bottom line: Always act to protect your students. Once it's posted, it's there forever.