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Plum School Board Considers New Social Media Plan

PLUM (KDKA) -- The Plum School Board is considering a plan to limit social media contact between students and teachers.

It comes after several teachers were arrested earlier this year for having alleged sexual relationships with high school students.

"With the light of this past year, this has certainly put this on the forefront and not just for us, but for all school districts," said Michele Gallagher, a school board member.

That's why Plum School Board members discussed a seven-page social media policy developed by the Pennsylvania School Board Association.

"If you have to communicate with a student, whether it's a text or an email, there's a parent on that. it's a group email," said Michelle Stepnick, another school board member. "You're never on that one-on-one conversation where something could go wrong, something is misconstrued."

The proposed policy would reach more than just teachers and coaches; there's talk of delivery people to the school as well as volunteers.

In February, Plum teachers Jason Cooper and Joseph Ruggieri were charged with having inappropriate relationships with female students. They also face witness intimidation charges.

In April, another teacher, Drew Zoldak, was accused of calling out one of the alleged victims in a class. He's charged with witness intimidation.

Last month, former substitute teacher and baseball coach Michael Cinefra was charged with having a relationship with a student that started when she was 15.

Board members say a social media policy may not have prevented what allegedly happened, but they believe it's a necessity in this day and age.

The new policy specifically prohibits romantic or sexual relationships and requires electronic communications to be allowed only for legitimate reasons, and also for emails to be sent on district-provided devices.

It's possible the board could take at a least a preliminary vote on this next week.

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