I received a question recently from a parent questioning what the limits are when someone blogs about their children and their experiences at school.
It was relayed to me that in at least one case, a parent was told that their blogs which contained school content had "breached the laws of confidentiality" and that they must remove the 'offending' content. And, of course, the dreaded implied threat came along with - the school was seeking legal advice. In this particular case, it appears that the parent was also suspended from helping out at their child's school.
So what's the scoop? Can a parent really get into legal hot water for blogging about their child's experiences and/or their discontent with their child's school?
It's a bit of a hard question to answer in the abstract because, as common sense might tell you, the answer will depend both on the actual content posted by the parent and the relevant laws where the parent resides. However, subject to the law concerning libel which I will touch on below, although a school may well be bound by duties of confidentiality, a parent is much less constricted.
Therefore writing that little Johnny is a student in Ms. Campbell's primary class at Rockland Heights School (as a totally fictitious example) should cause no concern. Nor should there be any problem with referencing the names of certain classmates (but common sense would tell you to stick with first names only when you are mentioning someone else's child). And if a parent was unhappy with the quality of the education little Johnny is receiving, sticking to factual details that you know (and can prove) to be true should also be kosher.
Where a problem could occur is were a parent to publish (publishing in a blog being much like publishing in a newspaper, for example) something about the school's actions or inactions which were false. At that point, chances are that you will have engaged the law concerning libel.