COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho Students and administrators are at odds over content of social networking sites after students were called to the office and disciplined for images showing alcohol-related activity on a MySpace profile.
Policing the popular social networking site invades their privacy, some students said. But Coeur d'Alene High School assistant principal Mike Nelson said administrators aren't trying to be "'Net nannies."
"We just want to remind our students that what's on the Internet can come back to hurt you," Nelson said.
When a student brought him images of classmates involved in "illegal acts," he was obligated to take action, Nelson said. He called the students to his office, then phoned their parents.
School officials throughout the region are faced with similar decisions over content posted on social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook.
Lakeland School Superintendent Chuck Kinsey said the site is blocked from school computers, but the district would allow administrators to access MySpace "if it is information presenting a problem for a district or an individual school."
That has happened in instances of cyber-bullying in his district, he said.
The site also could be accessed as part of an investigation into whether students in extracurricular activities are violating the activities code by drinking or using drugs, he said.
Some students aren't convinced by Nelson's insistence that Coeur d'Alene High administrators haven't gone online to search out evidence.
Several have switched their MySpace profiles to private so only their friends have access. A handful of students put messages on the public portion of their profiles poking fun at school administrators.
One was senior class president Garrett Andrews, whose MySpace profile features a picture of him drinking beer and guzzling a substance labeled "crack," and says he enjoys sex, drugs and alcohol.
"Even though MySpace is a public posting, it's not school-related at all," Andrews said. "I don't see how the school can feel obligated or just be bored enough to get people in trouble with their parents for things that didn't happen in school or around school."
The spoof is meant to provoke school administrators who recently lectured students for images of drinking and partying posted on MySpace pages, Andrews said.
Coeur d'Alene High School senior Molly McDonald, 18, plans to change her MySpace profile to private to keep out prying adults.
"The administration should cool off a little bit," McDonald said. "They were kids once, too."
Post Falls School Superintendent Jerry Keane said schools have no choice when they are made aware of illegal activity. They're going to share what they find with parents, and sometimes get law enforcement involved, he said.
That students are so adept that technology is a double-edged sword, Keane said.
"We need to educate students about the consequences of using technology," he said. "We need to include parents and the community. Obviously, there are students making bad choices."