Hampden Wilbraham School Committee wants an end to social media - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Hampden Wilbraham School Committee wants an end to social media 'snooping'

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The Hampden Wilbraham Regional School Committee wants a third-party company to stay away from social media accounts of students.

On March 17, Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner from Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education notified the Superintendent of the Hampden Wilbraham Regional School District that a standardized testing company named Pearson is conducting searches of student's social media accounts.

The company is looking for photos or detailed descriptions of PARCC test items, which is a standardized test assessing readiness for college and careers.

The school committee voted Tuesday night to protect students' rights to privacy.

“It's wrong,” Marc Ducey, School Committee Chairman said. “It invades the students' privacy and it's also an insult to our proctors who are there and setting a proper testing environment,”

The committee added they should have control over their students, not a third party such as Pearson.

“It pre-supposes our kids are doing the wrong thing,” Ducey said. “We have a test monitor there and it pre-supposes they're doing the wrong thing. So we would rather have local control over it and that is our issue.”

The complaint against Pearson has taken place in various states such as New Jersey and Colorado.

“If the students are putting it out there, then the school really doesn't have the right to say ‘oh you can't look at it,'” Stacy Specht of Hampden said.

“I don't really think finding it on social media would really help with that, so I don't really even see why they need to do it,” Kathleen Kukukla of Wilbraham said.

The school committee has written a request to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education. A portion reads:

“The HWRSD School Committee is formally requesting that MA DESE and Pearson refrain from searching the social media posts of HWRSD students.”

CBS 3 reached out to Pearson by phone and email Wednesday evening with no response.

The HWRSD School Committee will wait to hear from the MA DESE before reaching out any further.

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