Jefferson City Schools Look at Student-Teacher Relations Online
Amber Vieth is an 8th-grade math teacher at Lewis and Clark Middle School. She is one of a growing number of teachers quite worried about connecting with students on the internet. Since the school district doesn't have an official policy, she uses her own.
"My policy is I will never have any current student as one of my friends," Vieth said. "So I tell them, they can befriend me, whatever they want to do. But I won't accept that until after the last day of school and they are out of our building."
Jefferson City Public School administrators agree with Vieth's decision. District spokesperson David Luther said when teachers get a new friend request from a student on a social networking site, they should probably hit decline. But, it is ultimately up to the teacher to decide.
"Since it's not a policy, we cannot dictate to our staff that they can't have a student on a Facebook friend," Luther said. "In fact, we do have several staff members that probably fall under that classification. Generally when I come across it, I always remind them that there's potentially some problems there."
Luther said administrators will probably talk with other Mid-Missouri districts and district attorneys in the future about their student-teacher relations policies. But, Luther said most Missouri schools adopt guidelines set by the Missouri School Boards Association for student-teacher relations online.
Those guidelines say staff members should not:
Knowingly allow students access to the staff member's personal social networking website or webpage that discusses or portrays sex, nudity, alcohol or drug use or other behaviors associated with the staff member's private life that would be inappropriate to discuss with a student at school
- Knowingly grant students access to any portion of the member's personal social networking website or webpage that is not accessible to the general public
Post information about identifiable students on a personal website or webpage on a social networking site without the permission of a supervisor
Regardless of a written policy, Luther says Jefferson City students are educated about what is appropriate and inappropriate online behavior.