Glendale resident posts his objection to student social media monitoring

A grandfather of five stood up to castigate Glendale school officials for their decision to pay a company to monitor students' public posts on social networks, calling it an unconstitutional overreach.

Tony Passarella, whose two daughters graduated from Hoover High School in 1987 and 1989, made his feelings known at Tuesday's school board meeting. The basketball coach at Pacific Community Center was the first to address the board, pro or con, about the $40,500 contract with Geo Listening, despite national headlines and much online commentary.

"There is no way this is OK for the school board to intrude on the public speech of these students," the 26-year resident said following the meeting. "As far as legality, from what I've researched, I guess it's legal. But the way I read it, it's unconstitutional.... In my opinion, it's overreaching, big time."

However, Glendale Unified School District officials say the service helps the district intervene when students bully each other, threaten to hurt themselves or engage in drugs or violence.

During the meeting, Passarella also addressed Hoover High senior Audria Amirian, the student body's representative on the board.

"Audria, what you need to do is you need to rally your students," he said.

In response, Audria said she initially questioned the district keeping an eye on students' posts.

"I used to feel, in the beginning, some of the things that he was feeling," she said, but agreed with the district utilizing the service, which can only report on students' publicly available posts.

"They're not hacking into your system to find out what you've posted," Audria added. "Everything is public information. And I think that even if it saves one student's life, it's worth every dollar that you've put into it," she told the school board.

PTA presidents of Glendale schools are scheduled to discuss the service with Sheehan next week.

The meeting is not open to the general public, said Sandy Russell, president of the Glendale Council PTA. However, she said, the PTA leaders will be able to share more information with their fellow parents afterward.

"As everybody else has been finding out about it, so are we," she said. "We're still gathering our information … making sure if we have questions that we are getting those answers from the district."

Among parents and students, Russell said she is glad the topic has inspired discussion.

"I'm glad we're talking about it," she said. "We're hearing all sides and I think that's the important part."

School board member Christine Walters said Tuesday reactions to Glendale Unified analyzing posts has been mixed.

"The intent is really for the well-being of our students. And so I am very thankful that a lot of response that I have heard from people has been very positive and they think this is a great idea," she said.

School board member Greg Krikorian said monitoring posts was "a soft way of protecting kids and families."

"It's not big brother, '1984' happening all over again," he added. "Everywhere you go you're being recorded. Everywhere you go, there's a camera.... If you're really against it, get rid of all your technology."


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan


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Glendale students' response to social media monitoring mixed





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