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Opinion
Palm Coast Monday, May 21, 2018 6 months ago

OPINION: It's not Flagler Schools' job to monitor social media; let the Sheriff's Office hire Social Sentinel

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Too many questions, not enough answers on monitoring social media in Flagler County.

Dear Editor:

Flagler Schools should concentrate on the education of our students, solving the challenges of discipline within our schools or address our Exceptional Student Education program issues rather than dabbling in law enforcement functions. The three-year contract with Social Sentinel should have been an exercise by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office (if it is such a worthwhile endeavor), which has the authority and experience to investigate harassment and illegal activity. It's actually their job!

Are you confident that our current School Board members are asking the right questions? The administration and School Board members can't even agree on the extent and intent of the social media intrusion.

There are only a handful of people in the Technology Department and none on the School Board who even know what social media monitoring entails. Here are only a few of the questions I would have asked before making an ill-informed decision:

Does this company from Vermont have a presence here in Flagler County or are they going to remote in to our secured network (at least it was until now)?

What are the parameters of the keyword algorithms?

Do we have access to and control of those algorithms?

Since social media is not supposed to be used by those under 13, how are we restricting access to student's information for those who are underage?

What guarantees do we have that marketing metadata won't be extracted and sold since the size and scope of this project is so large yet Social Sentinel’s annual contract payment is so small?

See? There are dozens of questions when you know what to ask. There are actually more questions than answers with regards to this contract. Are you confident that our current School Board members are asking the right questions? The administration and School Board members can't even agree on the extent and intent of the social media intrusion.

There are many issues Flagler Schools should be facing and solving. This is not one of them. We keep making cuts at the school level and adding duties to administrators who already have a full-time workload. If we have that many administrators who have that much free time that we can continue to add to their duties, perhaps we need to start making cuts at the district level. Stop adding jobs until our core duties are done correctly.

Paul Anderson

Flagler County School Board candidate

District 4

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