NBC 7 media partner Voice of San Diego (VOSD) uncovered two incidents where Westview High School teachers were reprimanded for inappropriate text messaging with students but were allowed to continue teaching.
There were no police investigations or charges connected with either incident. And at the time there was no specific district policy regarding teacher-student texting.
There is now.
“It is too familiar and inappropriate. They shouldn't talk like this to students,” Westview High parent Irene Troulis said.
Troulis is referring to a 2016 text exchange between Westview High School teacher, and former basketball coach, Derek Peterson and a 10th-grade student athlete. Peterson told the student he had an “inappropriate” dream about her and when the student asked what he remembered, Peterson responded, “I’ll tell you after you graduate.”
According to VOSD’s report, the exchange made the student uncomfortable so she told a school employee and filed an official complaint.
Peterson told Poway Unified School District (PUSD) investigators he wasn’t sure why he told the student about the nature of his dream, and investigation documents reveal that he told his junior varsity team that he had dreams about them, too.
PUSD determined Peterson’s interactions with the student were inappropriate. They removed him as coach and gave him a warning, but no other disciplinary action was taken.
Peterson did not respond to VOSD’s request for comment.
In 2017 VOSD requested records of substantiated incidents of employee sexual misconduct from PUSD and every other school district in San Diego County.
Peterson’s records weren’t included in the records released to VOSD in 2018 because, according to officials, the incident wasn’t categorized as “sexual.”
Physical education teacher Tim Medlock was the subject of a misconduct investigation in 2017 in relation to text exchanges he had with a 12th-grade student two years prior.
VOSD reported in February that Medlock sent texts to the senior student including, "Should I be jealous that u have a new bff? ;)” and “Night night sweetie."
The school district told the student and her family that Medlock was disciplined, but did not provide details. Records released to VOSD revealed that Medlock was given a letter of reprimand and allowed to continue teaching.
That student and her family have demanded that Medlock be fired.
The two incidents at Westview are sparking conversation about appropriate ways for students and teachers to communicate when it comes to technology and social media.
PUSD updated its policies following Medlock’s case.
"All communication with students through social media, or other online platform, should be limited to matters directly related to the employee's professional duties,” District spokesperson Christine Paik told NBC 7.
Paik went on to say that employees must exercise good judgment and remain professional while interacting with students on and off school property, in person and digitally.
Paik told VOSD the district couldn’t fire or suspend Peterson or Medlock because they are entitled to due process.