Parent-led Facebook groups deeply impact district


Alexis Behrens

The Southern Lehigh Moms private facebook group has over 1300 members.

One oft-overlooked aspect of Southern Lehigh culture is the influence of its parent-led social media groups. Specifically, the Southern Lehigh Moms (SLM) Facebook group. Its impact is both positive and negative; it can be beneficial by connecting community members in a shared demographic. But the platform becomes detrimental as some of its users express divisive opinions, vilifying staff members and undermining school spirit.

SLM is a private group, meaning members must request to join and be accepted by one of the group’s two administrators. Once admitted, parents typically use the platform to discuss district operations, policies, schedules, and more. Created in 2013, the group has amassed a following of 1,331 members, meaning that nearly half of all students in the district could potentially have at least one parent in the group. This is a considerable percentage, suggesting that the platform has a rather broad range of influence. 

According to the group’s description, SLM aims to “connect local Southern Lehigh moms” and provide a home for “[t]ips, advice, questions, events,” and more. As such, discussions in SLM often center around topics beyond the actual school district. Many members advertise events or organizations they support, such as local summer camps, upcoming yard sales, or small businesses. Also common are posts asking for recommendations, which can address anything from parenting tips to where to find a reliable psychic medium. Overall, these interactions seem to bring the Southern Lehigh community closer together.

Some posts are more closely related to the school, such as questions about the daily schedule and educational programs. The latter are very helpful, since they answer important questions regarding how students may benefit from services like Individual Educational Plans (IEPs), the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute, Driver’s Ed, and so on. Tips from the group can also help parents navigate school platforms such as Sapphire, Google Classroom, Class Dojo, and Canvas. 

Occasionally, contentious subjects arise on the group, such as a May 25, 2022, post which addressed school safety following the events in Uvalde, Texas. In line with the group’s rule to “try to keep comments constructive and positive,” one user wrote that she was “not looking to start a policy debate here” but only wondering about safety measures currently in place. This resulted in a civil debate in which many parents agreed that Southern Lehigh should increase security. In fact, some posted that hearing others’ support encouraged them to email the school board, suggesting that SLM helped rally popular opinion to advocate for change.

Unfortunately, some discussions do not lead to positive closure. An April 26, 2022, post shared a link to a WFMZ article detailing teacher cuts in the Southern Lehigh district. Many respondents simply agreed that the loss of educators would be a blow to the schools, yet some turned their displeasure towards the administration.

To acknowledge the fact that SLM is a private group, this article will not provide commenters’ names or the exact words of specific posts quoted. The Spotlight has reached out to the authors of the following responses, yet received no answer, and as such simply paraphrased the stated opinions. 

One commenter directly blamed  Superintendent Mahon for the district’s challenges, then suggested without proof that his previous school had forced him from the administration due to similar issues. Another posted that the parents should choose which teachers would be cut, and named a specific staff member that they had in mind. After naming the individual, they proceeded to imply that said person had caused the district’s budgetary issues by embezzling tax money. These allegations are unfounded, but the comments remain for all to see. 

Maligning employees of the schools in such a way is particularly shameful. The use of specific names directs anger towards staff members, many of whom aren’t actually in the Facebook group to defend themselves. This type of comment feeds into disunity in the district and generally harms community morale by allowing the spread of hateful speech. 

In defense of the group as a whole, though, these respondents were breaking the SLM’s first listed rule. A rule that all social media users should keep in mind. “Let’s treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required.”



The Spotlight Editorial Staff