Texas high school says Myspace, Facebook 'ban' was coach's mistake

TEXAS — Northside Independent School District officials in SanAntonio quickly knocked down a verbal policy a local high school coach instilledduring a volleyball-parent orientation meeting last week.

Head Coach Kristen Daniell for Tom C. Clark High School’s girlsvolleyball team told parents [and students] during a formal athletic orientationthat her players were not permitted to maintain a profile on the popularsocial-networking sites MySpace or Facebook.

Pascual Gonzalez, Department of Communications executive director for theschool district, quickly knocked down media reports that a “ban” wasenforced on student athletes.

“There is no policy that forbids students from having MySpaceaccounts and there won’t (be),” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez maintains that Daniell simply did not understand district policiesand was “overzealous in her wish to protect her student athletes.”

The school district was notified when an unknown parent at the orientationmeeting notified local news outlets, Gonzalez said.

Stanley Laing, Clark High School principal, said the moment he heard whatDaniell had done, he met with her after the Labor Day recess to correct herstatement.

“There was misinformation given, and we’ve corrected it,”Laing said.

In a Sept. 2 letter provided by Laing and addressed to the volleyballplayers’ parents, the Clark High School athletic program wrote there was no suchpolicy forbidding students from taking part in social-networking Web sites.

“However, it is our intent … to discourage our athletes visitingsocial-networking Web sites for their own protection,” the letter read.”History has taught us that students appearing on certain Web sites haveput themselves in jeopardy of violating various school district and athleticpolicies.”

Gonzalez said the school district has a higher standard for studentathletes regarding disciplinary action. Each athlete must sign an Athletic Codeof Conduct, he said.

“There have been kids that have been busted for having pictures ofthemselves drinking beer or smoking pot or inappropriate photography exposingthemselves,” Gonzalez said. “And, they realize it can come back andhurt them later.”

Daniell declined a request to be interviewed for this story.

This is not the first controversy to hit Clark High School involvingsocial-networking Web sites, Gonzalez said. He said there have been a dozencases of students being disciplined for “inappropriate”behavior.

In 2006, Anna Draker, an assistant principal for the school, sued twostudents for posting fraudulent information about her on MySpace. The case isstill pending.