G-Town Talks Disclaimer

Check out the changes made in the tagline of this blog. This is a disclaimer added after our superintendent attended a presentation on January 12, 2007 by Elizabeth D. Carlson of the law firm, HodgsonRuss. The recommendations include developing a blogging policy where a district must “clearly communicate with its employees where it stands on the use of blogs.” She goes on to say, “If a district actively, or even passively, encourages blogging, a specific blogging policy is advisable to define the acceptable parameters of blogging. A blogging policy should require personal blog users to make certain disclosures and disclaimers. Employees should be required to state clearly that the views expressed are their own views, not the views of the district.”

This proves interesting for G-Town Talks. Certainly, the views expressed in these posts are mine, and are not necessarily the views of the “district”. I sort of thought that was obvious. But who then is the “district”? As a leader in the school, I’m writing as the high school principal about, well, the high school. As the principal hired by the district, my views should be in line with our community, the superintendent and the Board of Education. Otherwise, I’m likely to find myself using this blog to look for employment.

I am always aware of audience when I write and 98% of the time, I tie anything that I’m writing about in my personal life to school. I’ve  fearlessly written in this blog since July when I attended training, paid for by the district, at High School’s New Face. I’ve heard of colleagues who won’t even comment on a blog for fear of “tenure”. I’m not tenured yet either, but believe that if I write honestly, with integrity, conducting myself as a professional, that G-Town Talks could only extend my communication and influence. I’ve written honestly here and I’ve never “hidden behind” the blog, never written anonymously about anything, and never been inappropriate.

Is there something I’m missing? I would never misuse this blog to say anything that I wouldn’t otherwise say to my superintendent, to Board members, to parents or to kids. I just thought that was a given. Hopefully, this post and the disclaimer in my tagline will make it “CYA” clear. Or will it?

  1. Hello —
    What a great post — and what a great blog. I am glad I stumbled up on it.

    I would like to ask a question, if I may — did something happen that made them have such a reaction? Did a teacher or admin abuse blogging which made them react with such a warning or policy??

    I do think that a school or district does need to remind their teachers that their words (written words) have a much bigger ripple than they had in the past. And if your blog does reflect negatively against your school or your fellow employees, it isn’t like in the past where you just go home and vent to your spouse and no one hears about it. You never know just how far your blog can go……..

    However, if someone is venting on their blog — would this not be a great opportunity for admin to sit up and see if perhaps the thoughts are valid?

    Grins, I am wavering on this one…….and will have to chew it a bit.

    However, under NO circumstances, do I feel (at least in the USA) that anyone can take away my freedom of “type” (which is what I call blogging!

    Thanks for a chance to post.

  2. As the principal hired by the district, my views should be in line with our community, the superintendent and the Board of Education


    Otherwise, I’m likely to find myself using this blog to look for employment.

    If this is what you feel, then stating “If my views are not in line with so and so, then such and such may happen” may be more accurate. But to state that your views “should” be in line is counter to progressive action in education. What if your view is of an unpopular minority but stands the test of reason?

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  5. I would add one word to your disclaimer. …and do not (necessarily) reflect the views of the Gowanda School District as a whole.

    I add this because I believe and hope that the views you express here are shared by many in the school district.

  6. I think it’s a relatively safe maneuver. You never know when, like, the media would start hounding this or something. 😉

  7. That’s getting to be a common practice, both in and out of the educational community. I’ve seen some people get quite humorous with how they word their disclaimer, without losing the essential meaning. I look at the disclaimer as something similar to “Any resemblence between a character in this film and a living person is purely coincidental”. It was put in there by some attorney who needed to feel important. That said, it’s probably not a bad thing to have.

  8. You, and only you, have a decision to make. Blog – make a difference, commit. Or stop, hide – and exist within the norm.

  9. Kim,
    This is a very timely topic for me and I have been thinking about this a lot the last few days. The blog that I write is actually part of the school district’s blog site. Each employee is able to have a blog, although only small number of teachers have taken advantage of this so far, and I am the only principal in the district actively blogging. Considering this situation, I have been wondering if I have less leeway to express my self. I will always act responsibly and professionally on my blog, but what if my opinion regarding a certain topic is different than that of a school board member, a community member, or a central office administrator? Am I at risk? Would I have more freedom to express myself if I owned a private blog on a site like Blogger? This would be a blog that was not connected to the school district in any way. Am I at risk when expressing my opinions regardless of what blog site I subscribe to? Do I give up freedom of speech rights by using a school district blog or does the 1st Amendment only protect me no matter what kind of blog I have? Are there any lawyers out there who can answer this question?

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  11. Hi Kim,

    I have to agree with the other posts. I have had the honor of working in the same district as you. I knew then that you were destined for bigger ideas. Keep up the good work!

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  13. I really admire the work you have been doing here, Kim, and your professionalism and judgment are above reproach. You are modeling something important for administrators, and even your willingness to share this part of it instructs. Thanks for showing the way.

  14. Hi Kimberly! DOn’t stop blogging on account of some lawyer! What do they know anyways? (No offense to Scott McLeod (grin)).

    Seriously, it’s a dangerous game. The reality, as you know, is that we take our livelihood into our hands everytime we blog. As a school district central office blogging administrator, I like to think I’ve been fired, but the news just hasn’t gotten to me yet (smile).

    More at:

    Best wishes,
    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net

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