Ashland High School principal adopts Facebook policy

Ashland High School Principal Michelle Zundel is Facebook friends with dozens of students — but that doesn't mean she wants them using the social-networking site during class.

With the help of leadership students, Zundel instituted a Facebook policy at the high school this winter, prohibiting students from logging in anytime class is in session.

Students are allowed to visit the website during breaks, at lunch and before and after school using library computers or their own smartphones.

"We brainstormed a range of ideas, from blocking Facebook at the server, which is what most high schools have done, to creating some other guidelines," Zundel said. "I believe that we need to teach students to use technology rather than be slaves to it or use it inappropriately."

The first time students violate the policy, they receive a warning; the second time they're given after-school detention; and the third time they're suspended from school for a day.

Since the policy has been in effect, Facebook use on campus has declined dramatically, Zundel said. No students have been suspended yet for violating the policy three times, she said.

The vast majority of the high school's 1,000 students have Facebook accounts, Zundel said.

"Even students without Internet access at home are communicating in this way," she said. "It is a social-networking tool, and adolescents are certainly interested in social life."

The high school's yearbook, newspaper and club sports groups also use Facebook to disseminate and collect information, she said.

Last fall, Zundel noticed Facebook was becoming a distraction on campus, with students logging in during class and then enticing others to look at pictures or videos on the website, she said.

"Students would be pulling other students away from studying in the library to look at something on Facebook," she said.

The high school has seen cases of students being bullied on Facebook, and it treats those instances seriously, Zundel said.

"Facebook is another tool for would-be bullies, and we address those instances and misconduct the same way we would with students reporting bullying and harassment of the face-to-face variety," she said.

Although Facebook can create problems if it's not used responsibly, Zundel said she recognizes the value of the social-networking tool in keeping students and parents informed.

"It's a wonderful medium for telling important stories," she said. "For example, we have a featured artist in the main office every month, and I can celebrate them by posting photos. I also find it is a great way to partner with parents for students' education."

On her "Principal Zundel" Facebook page, she accepts anyone who requests to be her "friend," a status that allows them to read and respond to her posts.

As of Friday, she was friends with 374 people, many of them students, parents and teachers.

She has posted updates on recent school plays, registration for next academic year and information on whether school will be closed because of snowstorms.

Students and parents send her messages via Facebook, asking questions about college entrance requirements, school policies and attendance.

Although Zundel frequently updates her Facebook page, she said she logs in only when school isn't in session, adhering to the policy she created.

"I don't have time to during the day," she said. "This is something that I do as a public service outside of the school day."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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