Montgomery task force on cyber civility extends its work into the fall

A Montgomery County schools task force looking into how to boost online civility will extend its work into the fall, continuing to meet through late October, the group decided.

The task force was announced last December after Superintendent Joshua P. Starr was zinged with offensive tweets as he and other district officials weighed whether to close schools for snow and icy weather. Some tweets included cursing or racial epithets.

Starr said at the time that he had received inappropriate tweets on other occasions but the December batch hit a new low point. He wrote a letter to parents, saying he wanted to create a community dialogue and would appoint a task force to encourage healthy online exchanges and decision-making.

“We need to talk about ‘cybercivility’: how we can help our children grow into responsible and caring adults who interact with one another in a civil, respectful way,” Starr wrote.

The task force — composed of educators, parents and students as well as law enforcement, nonprofit and community leaders — began meeting in April. Its recommendations could touch on issues of policy, curriculum, safety and communication.

Early on, the effort was expected to last until August. But task force members are still working in subcommittees and in July agreed to extend the effort into the fall.

“This is a new initiative and they need a little more time to review what’s out there and decide what steps to take,” said schools spokesman Dana Tofig.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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