Q:

I know for a fact that a chemistry teacher at my daughter’s high school texts students. In fact, I have even seen a text from this teacher on my daughter’s phone. Also, he is a friend on her Facebook page.I have heard from other parents that he calls their home at all hours of the night. He even invites students over to his house to work on their homework or to study for tests. I won’t let my daughter go to his house, and she feels that her grade is slipping because she is missing these study sessions.

I can’t say that anything inappropriate is going on because I don’t know. However, I know that in my day this would not be appropriate behavior for a teacher. Do you think I should act on this information? – Worried

A:

Act on this immediately. This is definitely not appropriate behavior for a high school teacher at any time. He should be conducting all study sessions at school and open to every student that he teaches. No study sessions should be by private invitation. Even if this teacher’s behavior is perfectly acceptable at these study sessions, it has the appearance of being inappropriate and could lead to misunderstanding. The principal needs to be told of these study sessions.

The principal also needs to know that this teacher is also using social media to contact students. Show the principal the text messages on your daughter’s phone. While the teacher may be a recent college graduate accustomed to talking to friends by Facebook, texting or e-mail, the principal needs to explain that such actions can be misconstrued.

Some schools are now developing social media policies that establish teacher guidelines for online communication with students. They include such elements as:

1.Use school platforms only for communication with students such as the school Web site or Facebook page.

2.Do not issue “friend” requests to students and decline students’ invitations to be “friends” on personal Facebook pages.

3.Do not give cell phone numbers or personal e-mail addresses to students.

4.Avoid private texting with students. Be sure all communications with students are professional in tone.