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Where to Draw the Line: Teachers and Students

Students+texting+during+school+hours.
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Where to Draw the Line: Teachers and Students

Students texting during school hours.

Students texting during school hours.

Aliya Linan

Students texting during school hours.

Aliya Linan

Aliya Linan

Students texting during school hours.

By Aliya Linan, Santaluces High School

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As high school students, we begin as young teenagers and leave as youngs adults. Some may even leave as adults in the eyes of the law. We make decisions that could affect our entire lives. Spending seven or more hours a day at school, we can become influenced by our teachers, administrators or coaches.

Knowing where to draw the line in these relationships is not only important but it is the law for faculty members. As students, we strive to create positive relationship with those who are around us during our four years of high school. We hope to make the most out of the journey that leads us into the real world. But how far is too far?

Most students seek to create bonds with teachers, administrators and coaches in hopes to be comfortable enough to ask them for help in school or sports. Some students also create these relationships to have a role model to look up to considering some people do not have this at home.

“Well I know there’s a definite boundary,” said AICE International teacher Mr. Jayne. “You don’t give out personal information and you don’t talk about too many things that are personal and that’s it. You can be a mentor to students but never let it get too far.”

However, occasionally, these platonic relationships can be confused for something more. Earlier this month, staff member Michael Cohen was arrested for inappropriately contacting a student when she was 17 years old and a junior. When faculty become licensed, they agree to follow a code of ethics of the education profession in Florida. The code of ethics lists all the ways in which faculty must properly interact with students to avoid legal complications.

This document states “Do NOT flirt with students, Do NOT discuss your personal life with students,” and “Do NOT make telephone calls or write notes of a personal nature to students.”

These rules should must be followed for all students, even if the student is 18 or older. Although 18 is considered to be of legal age, these rules still apply even if there was consent.

“Yes, I did know that even though I’m 18 I can not have relationships with faculty members,” Senior Ricardo Cotwal said. “It makes sense, you’re 18 year olds, still a high school student, you shouldn’t be doing stuff like that when all you have to wait is three more months to do whatever you want.”

Nowadays, technology makes it easy for students to reach into the personal life of another faculty member. Apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and GroupMe allow for communication outside of school. Although there are no specific laws stating that students and faculty can not share their social media accounts, there have been many recommendations from professionals organizations and from Santaluces Principal Mrs. Robinson.

“Well I think it’s really important for teachers to establish relationships with students. Obviously that’s why we all got into the work as educators. I think teachers have to know there are boundaries set in regards to one, your morals and values but also as a professional as it relates to ethics and our code of conduct that we have to follow as educators set by the state department,” said Mrs. Robinson. “In regards to social media I tell my teachers often that one I know social media is huge right now but I would not recommend them having a social media account linked to a student because what you do outside of work students should not be permitted to. Some of the more appropriate social medias that I think teachers could use to connect to students is the remind app. And just always keep it professional; that’s really important.”

Junior Lesly Hernandez believes there should be certain boundaries between students and teachers.

“Honestly I never thought that a teacher-student relationship could get too far but since it happened at our school, I guess it could happen anywhere,” said Lesly. “I consider it too far when a teacher and student text outside of school on subjects that are personal.”

Although technology has complicated student-teacher relationships, it has also made them safer. Education-centered communication Apps such as Remind allows faculty and students to communicate in a professional manner about school related issues such as, reminders of what homework is due the following day or to even allow club advisers to reach out to their members about upcoming meetings and events. Remind has community guidelines which all of their users must obey.

According to Remind, “Communication should be appropriate  for recipients of all age levels and constructive in nature.”

“I use Remind to remind my kids about homework solely for that. Also, before testing I’ll send them a good luck message. I do leave the replies on so they can reply back to me but the good thing about that is the app is approved  by the district,” Student Government and AICE General Papers teacher Ms. Matuella said.

This story was originally published on The Tribe on February 18, 2019.

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