If you don’t think Manteca Unified is listening to the community, parents and students — guess again.
Staff keeps tabs on various social media sites such as Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other forums.
“It’s a great way to keep track of the community’s pulse,” noted Victoria Brunn, the Manteca Unified Director of Community Outreach.
Brunn said using and tracking social media is just one dimension of how the district communicates with the community and parents in particular. Equally important are traditional meetings such as PTA gatherings and other in-person outreach efforts, phone messages, apps, the district website, traditional media and more,
“We want to hear what our community has to say,” Brunn said.
She also added that people “want to be heard.” It is the job of the staff she oversees to make sure they are heard.
For example they will monitor neighborhood Internet pages such as in Manteca and Weston Ranch to listen to the conversations. If they see issues being raised about Manteca Unified, they will refer the concerns to appropriate personnel whether it is a school principal or a district department.
Brunn brings a multi-dimensional perspective to her position. She was a classroom teacher for 12 years, her husband teaches in the district, they have two students in Manteca Unified schools, and she is a community resident.
At the same time the community outreach staff has a strong mix as well.
“We have millennial parents, Generation X parents, and Baby Boomers monitoring social media,” Brunn pointed out.
She believes that allows the district to effectively address the different ways in which various generations employ social media.
The community outreach department is constantly updating the district’s website and app, produces a twice monthly PDF and print version of the school board’s “Mark Highlights” touching on board polices, programs, classroom activities, and student and faculty achievements. They also produce the monthly PDF and print “Insight: Snapshots of Success” that serves as a report card of sorts to the community as well as an update on various undertakings from bond projects to athletic field upkeep.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer noted the district didn’t simply want to have a public information officer that provided information but one that was actively keeping a pulse on the community via social media and other avenues.
The staff also helps Manteca Unified deliver on its commitment to assure student safety and provide the best possible learning environment.
Messer noted before the advent of social media and smartphones, if a student was having issues with other students at school, they could leave them behind when they went home. The same was true in reverse.
“With social media they can’t escape it,” Messer said. “It follows them everywhere.”
Rupinder Bhatti, the Manteca Unified Director of Child Welfare and Attendance, noted student safety whether its physical or the mental safety of a student is the district’s No. 1 priority.
When social media incidents or concerns are brought to the site administrator’s attention, they are taken seriously.
Parents and students are always encouraged to bring social media concerns to the school’s attention, especially if the incident is creating an unsafe school environment for the alleged victim.
Messer said the district currently works behind the scenes to address social media issues. It sets the tone with its digital citizenship initiative where students are mentored in the proper use of social media and the Internet.
The site administration takes the necessary steps to address social media complaints — just like they would incidents that happen physically on site or going to and from school. They investigate the situation. If the incident involves multiple sites, then both sites work together to ensure that the situation is addressed and any consequences issued are consistent throughout the district. All behavioral incidents are tracked within the student information system on the students involved.
The goal of creating a safe school environment is especially emphasized when issues are creating a situation where the alleged victim doesn’t feel comfortable in coming to school or has a negative impact on their academics or mental state.
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