New York City has spoken on the volatile issue of teacher and student contact on social media. Public school teachers in the NYC system may not communicate with students through their personal accounts on Facebook and Twitter, but can communicate on pages set up for classroom use, announced the city’s Education Department. Teachers may not email, “friend” or otherwise communicate with students on private pages.
Parents must sign a consent form before their children can participate on a classroom social media page and the teacher must get a supervisor’s approval before setting up such a page, according to a New York Times article on the new social media rules.
In general, the guidelines say that teachers should maintain separate professional and personal web pages and should use privacy settings to control access to their personal social media sites. Teachers are put on notice that they should have no expectation of privacy when using social media because principals and other officials will be on the lookout for questionable behavior.
The guidelines released in May recognize that teacher-student interactions on social media can offer tremendous educational benefits and for that reason do not ban teachers from using social. The guidelines fail to address cellphone communication and text messaging between teachers and students, which has been an even more problematic issue, according to The New York Times. One New York official said, “The last thing we want to do is prohibit communication and prevent a teacher from helping a student in distress, even if that means making a phone call.”
The guidelines are the latest official response to a number of episodes involving inappropriate interactions and relationships with students, many of which began or were conducted on social media.
Social Media Rules Limit New York Student Teacher Contact, The New York Times, May 1, 2012