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Verifying Federal Recognized K-12 Education Institutions on Social Media

Why It Matters


Across the United States, there are more than 19,000 operating school districts serving more than 50 million students. Each public school district has a unique 7-digit National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) school district identification number. That unique ID verifies the source of school district data for NCES and the federal government.

Yet when school districts attempt to verify their identities with social media platforms, they are asked to produce artifacts that are much less official and often not applicable such as articles of incorporation, staff badge photos, utility bills or paperwork filed with a secretary of state. 

Even when school districts are able to produce the requested artifacts, it is often not enough for some social media platforms. Automated approval/rejection processes, minimum follower requirements and verify-by-phone processes that don’t account for phone number extensions have served as additional barriers to many school districts’ ability to be verified.

The results are frustrating for many public schools, as was evident in a survey of NSPRA and CoSN members conducted in May-June 2022. Following is a small sampling of the nearly 50 comments received on verification barriers.


In Their Words

“We always get a canned email that says we do not qualify but does not specify why and does not have a way for us to inquire further.”

“No explanation was given. We were able to provide all the artifacts asked for and were rejected.”

“Since our phone has extensions, it would never verify by phone. Mailed verification requests never arrived.”

“For the sites that our district has applied to be verified on, the primary explanation for rejection was that our account was not notable enough to earn verification.”

“Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all gave similar explanations that they could not verify that we were both a) the organization that we claimed to be and b) an organization noteworthy enough to be verified.”

“We don't necessarily have the actual type of documents they are asking for and in the cases of some of those documents, our business office will not release them to an outside company. We have a town charter which outlines the creation of the school district. That's the sole document that exists that says we are officially associated with our town. I've also submitted our profile via the State Department of Education, but that's gone nowhere to help. We do not have article of incorporation or paperwork filed with a Secretary of State because of our structure.”

“We have accounts (specifically Facebook and Instagram) that we have requested verification for that have been rejected. By not being verified, this leaves some of our stakeholders to see fake-official accounts and not understand it is not affiliated with our school system. It is too easy for someone to take our logo (which are trademarked), put it on a social media site, and start chaos via misinformation and disinformation. I would like to see social media sites take this as serious as copyright/trademark in the music industry. If our logos are trademarked, why are you allowing another individual to create an account using that image?”