Texas high school says Myspace, Facebook 'ban' was coach's mistake
TEXAS -- Northside Independent School District officials in San Antonio quickly knocked down a verbal policy a local high school coach instilled during a volleyball-parent orientation meeting last week.
Head Coach Kristen Daniell for Tom C. Clark High School's girls volleyball team told parents [and students] during a formal athletic orientation that her players were not permitted to maintain a profile on the popular social-networking sites MySpace or Facebook.
Pascual Gonzalez, Department of Communications executive director for the school district, quickly knocked down media reports that a "ban" was enforced on student athletes.
"There is no policy that forbids students from having MySpace accounts and there won't (be)," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez maintains that Daniell simply did not understand district policies and was "overzealous in her wish to protect her student athletes."
The school district was notified when an unknown parent at the orientation meeting notified local news outlets, Gonzalez said.
Stanley Laing, Clark High School principal, said the moment he heard what Daniell had done, he met with her after the Labor Day recess to correct her statement.
"There was misinformation given, and we've corrected it," Laing said.
In a Sept. 2 letter provided by Laing and addressed to the volleyball players' parents, the Clark High School athletic program wrote there was no such policy forbidding students from taking part in social-networking Web sites.
"However, it is our intent ... to discourage our athletes visiting social-networking Web sites for their own protection," the letter read. "History has taught us that students appearing on certain Web sites have put themselves in jeopardy of violating various school district and athletic policies."
Gonzalez said the school district has a higher standard for student athletes regarding disciplinary action. Each athlete must sign an Athletic Code of Conduct, he said.
"There have been kids that have been busted for having pictures of themselves drinking beer or smoking pot or inappropriate photography exposing themselves," Gonzalez said. "And, they realize it can come back and hurt them later."
Daniell declined a request to be interviewed for this story.
This is not the first controversy to hit Clark High School involving social-networking Web sites, Gonzalez said. He said there have been a dozen cases of students being disciplined for "inappropriate" behavior.
In 2006, Anna Draker, an assistant principal for the school, sued two students for posting fraudulent information about her on MySpace. The case is still pending.
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