MCPS starts conversation about cyber civility

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - Bad winter weather has put local school systems in the hot seat when deciding delays and closures.

In Montgomery County, some students and parents are taking to social media to share their thoughts on the snow days. A few people are crossing the line with offensive tweets. Now there's talk of introducing cyber civility.

Montgomery County Public Schools took to Twitter Wednesday to keep followers in the loop about any changes to school hours due to this week's impending storm.

This winter, some folks have also decided to weigh in on the bad weather with bad behavior directed at Superintendent Joshua Starr's Twitter handle.

"So kids took to Twitter to share their concerns or share what they thought should happen in terms of the district staying open or closing. But the way in which they communicated really concerned Dr. Starr," said MCPS spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala. "Those that we felt were extremely inappropriate, we did share those with the principal and they dealt with it as they saw fit."

But the school system is now taking it to another level, starting a conversation about "cyber civility" by creating a task force that will help get the message out about communicating respectfully and responsibly via social media and email.

"I think it's a good idea that they're putting some ground rules," said MCPS student Erjon Baballari.

Applications are being accepted now until February 24 from students, parents and community members who may be interested in joining the group.

"From presentations to brochures...who knows, maybe a PSA. We want them to lead this work," said Onijala.

This initiative is drawing mixed reactions from the school community.

"That's how people express their freedom of speech," said MCPS student Illyana Mputu

"I don't think it's necessary to have a task force. I think [Starr] makes pretty good decisions on the whole," said MCPS parent Elena Flax.

The school system began accepting applications for the task force on Monday. So far 90 applications have been received and that number is expected to grow.