An investigation by NBC 7’s media partner, Voice of San Diego, shows that teacher-student communication via texting and social media are often at the root of incidents of teacher misconduct.
Texting and messaging via social media between students and teachers can be harmless, so long as the parties are talking about academics, but the Voice of San Diego’s report reveals social media and texting have been the engine for numerous instances of inappropriate communication.
A teacher and the Sweetwater Union High School District recently settled a civil suit after the teacher sent pictures of herself to a male student via social media. Another case highlighted in the report involves a male teacher messaging a 17-year-old female student, "Should I be jealous that u have a new bff? ;)” and “Night night sweetie."
Voice of San Diego reporter Kayla Jimenez went through the records the voice of San Diego requested from school districts throughout the county about teacher misconduct.
“It’s prevalent from the trend we’re seeing in these records,” Jimenez told NBC 7. “We noticed a pattern that’s come up over and over again, a trend, there’s multiple mentions of Facebook and texting, and ways that teachers are communicating with students over technology inappropriately.”
Juny Drinnen, a grandmother to school-age students, wasn’t surprised by the findings.
“I’m sure it does [happen],” she said. “A young teacher – a good looking teacher, a good looking student, hey, it's not that it should [happen].”
Meanwhile, some students told NBC 7 communication online between them and teachers is rare, and in some cases, regulated.
“I’ve tried to ask my teacher if he wants to play online Xbox with us. He said ‘No, you have to wait until after you graduate.’ They're really strict with that,” High School Senior Leo Rubio said.
Jimenez says fewer than 10 of the 43 districts have a policy in place about teachers using technology to contact students. Escondido and Oceanside, she says, have clear-cut rules.
“They’re not at all to contact students outside the classroom over technology, social media or texting, including personal devices,” she said.
Jimenez said as a result of her inquiries, some school districts are working on policies, or looking to change their current policies, to more clearly address the use of social media.