New Teacher-Student Communications Policy

A new policy has recently been approved by the Wake County school board that will prevent Wake County school employees from communicating electronically with students unless they use district-controlled services to do so. There are a few limited exceptions outlined in the policy for when a school employee may use a personal device to contact a student, and this must be approved by a supervisor and the student’s parent beforehand. Most of these exceptions revolve around the teacher and student knowing each other from other reasons not related to school (such as being relatives or neighbors), the teacher sending the student only educational related material which must be copied to a supervisor and possibly the student’s parent, and a real emergency requiring a teacher to contact a student immediately, which must be disclosed to a supervisor and parent as soon as reasonably possible.

As made clear by the new rules being put to use by this policy, Wake County wants to put an end to all electronic teacher-student relations unless it is by use of a service controlled by the school or a supervisor and the student’s parent are also seeing the conversations between the teacher and student. It is quite obvious that the main reason behind this new policy is to eliminate the chance of inappropriate messages being sent between a teacher and student without anyone finding out (or possibly finding out too late). We have all heard news stories revolving around inappropriate behavior between a teacher and student being discovered, and they typically end with the teacher being taken into custody. Wake County is making it known that they do not want any of their school employees engaging in such misconduct, and they would rather eliminate the risk of it happening before it can even start.

Although Wake County has valid reasons for cracking down on teacher-student communications via electronics, this must be frustrating news for the teachers who utilize their personal devices to send texts to students to remind them of upcoming school events and other important messages. Teachers will now have to practically jump through hoops if they want to continue texting their students regarding school matters unless they start using an online service controlled by the school so that the messages are public and can be seen by a supervisor or parent. While most of the WCPSS staff is content with the new policy for reducing the risk of inappropriate behavior ensuing between a teacher and student, some teachers and students are bound to be annoyed for having to change communication methods.

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