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Montgomery Schools to Focus on 'Cybercivility'

Montgomery County school leaders want residents to talk about best to communicate online, an initiative dubbed "cybercivility."

Montgomery Schools to Focus on 'Cybercivility'

Tweets with curse words and racial slurs directed at the Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent as he weighed whether to cancel school this winter have prompted the formation of a group that will help students and their families use social media in a positive way.

The new Cybercivility Task Force will develop strategies to raise awareness of the need for cybercivility in how MCPS students and adults communicate online, says a news release. It will also guide the creation of tools for schools, parents and community members that encourage conversations about cybercivility.

Applications are being accepted to take part in the task force.

“The Cybercivility Task Force will be a critical resource in our ongoing efforts to help our students understand how to use technology and social media appropriately,” Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr said. “This work isn’t easy, but it is my hope that we can help school communities and families talk about how to use social media in positive and productive ways.”

Superintendent Starr  published an open letter to all MCPS parents in December about the need for a communitywide dialogue on how to teach students to be safe and civil online. Starr wrote the letter in response to several inappropriate comments that were made to him on Twitter as he was deliberating whether to close schools due to inclement weather.

The letter can be viewed on the  MCPS website, along with links to helpful resources for parents and community members.

Starr also asked that MCPS staff create a task force that will help develop strategies and identify resources that can be used to promote civility among students and adults.

Montgomery County Public Schools is seeking broad involvement from parents, students, staff and community members to serve on the task force. The group will meet once a month and members will be expected to meet in smaller groups, as well. The process will last from March to August.

Anyone who wishes to serve on the task force must submit a  completed application form by 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24. Individuals selected to participate on the task force will be notified by Monday, March 3.

For more information, visit the  Cybercivility webpage or contact the Office of Communications at 301-279-3853.

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