The Downside of Social Media? Speed and Permanence.
That's one of the lessons learned from the situation with an experienced school leader in Florida: Girl Costs Father $80,000.
Social media is a tool that can be a valuable part of your communication strategy, but only when used within a strategic pattern that seeks to build trust. In this situation, it was used in a vengeful manner that broke a commitment to confidentiality.
Because of this violation of the agreement and the inappropriate use of social media, the former head of a school in Florida, will not receive an $80,000 discrimination settlement that he was awarded. After his contract wasn’t renewed in 2011 he filed an age discrimination complaint. The school agreed to back pay and the large settlement.
Unfortunately for this gentleman, he chose to tell his daughter about the details of the agreement in direct violation of the non-disclosure clause that was included. His daughter then vented on Facebook about her dad’s perceived victory over the school. After a few rounds of appeals, it was decided that the administrator's actions should result in the school not paying him the settlement funds.
Speed and Permanence
Information is shared so quickly these days. Sometimes it's not "information" at all but rather just opinion or personal experience. The problem is once that "send" button is clicked, retraction is impossible. There's no rewind button in life nor on social media. Which means the wise school leader has safeguards built in to the process of posting messages so that anger or just plain foolishness doesn't distract from the school's momentum and mission.
Hopefully the school board involved also learned how to improve its communication and relationship with the chief administrator. This entire situation could have been avoided had they been more professional and respectful in their decisions regarding the employment contract of their leader. Now the pain of this family has disrupted the school and the lives of many people, damaging the hopes and dreams of all. Hopefully they will exercise the power of grace and forgiveness to restore valuable friendships.