Legal action threat to parents who discuss Norfolk school on Facebook

Parents have been warned they could face legal action if they post derogatory comments about their child's school on social networking sites.

The guidance against posting complaints on websites such as Facebook has been issued to parents of children at Drayton Community Infant School on the outskirts of Norwich.

In a letter to parents, chair of governors Ian Colman said: 'We are aware some parents have been using Facebook and other social networking sites to discuss what happens at school.

'It has also been brought to our attention Facebook, in particular, has been used to discuss concerns. Social networking sites such as Facebook are not an appropriate place to discuss such concerns and we request that parents raise any questions with their child's class teacher or the headteacher.

'Comments made on social networking sites can easily be viewed as being derogatory and could be interpreted as bringing the school or the reputation of an individual into disrepute.

'Any content which is considered to be defamatory of an individual or the school, or damaging in any way, will be shared with Norfolk County Council's legal department for them to investigate which could result in legal action.'

In the letter, Mr Colman also said school staff have been told they should not contact parents through social networking sites and that if there is already an online friendship between staff and parents, then conversations should not be about issues in school or specific children.

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It is not clear what prompted the letter and Norfolk County Council officials said it is not a Norfolk-wide policy for all schools.

The move, however, has been welcomed by parents whose children attend the School Road school.

Michelle Bailey, 36, who lives in Fairview Close, in Drayton, and whose son Louis, six, goes to the school, said: 'I agree with what the school is saying. You shouldn't be discussing any issues with the school on social networking sites and if you have a problem you should go to speak to the teachers.

'I think people forget who can see what they are saying on social networking sites.'

Rachel Anderson, 36, who lives in Taverham and whose son Oliver, six, goes to the school, said she was in 'total agreement' with the guidance.

She added: 'The teachers are so approachable and they make you feel so welcome, you can always go to speak to them or the headteacher. There shouldn't be any need to have discussions on social networking sites if you've got a problem.'

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said an e-safety toolkit is available for schools online as well as links to guidance for teachers from other organisations about use of social media, which schools can use as they see fit.

He added: 'The county council has not suggested that all schools issue the letter in question.'

What do you think? Do you think parents should be told what they can and cannot discuss on social networking sites? Is this today's modern alternative to parents gossiping at the school gates? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email