Little Things Teachers Can’t Legally Do
If you’re new to the teaching profession, it’s advisable to understand that the teaching profession comes with regulations. There are little things that teachers are prohibited from doing.
And while some teachers may take certain actions that are prohibited without severe repercussions, it’s advisable to remain informed to avoid any consequences.
Driving Students In Your Car
Irrespective of your good intentions, giving a student a ride in your personal vehicle is a huge no-no. Teachers who transport students in their personal vehicles could face consequences including suspension and even contract termination.
And while this may seem extreme, as the student may live in the same area as the teacher, regulations against this action are based on genuine concerns including:
Although institutions can buy liability insurance for non-owned cars, this insurance often goes beyond what the owner of the private car covers. That means that teachers who transport students are responsible for providing primary liability coverage through their personal auto insurance.
The teacher becomes responsible for anything that happens to the student, including unforeseen situations like an accident. By extension the school and district become liable.
One very important reason why teachers should refrain from driving students has to do with student and third-party accusations of impropriety. Most teachers, especially male teachers are aware of how easily a teacher’s life and career can be ruined in the event of an accusation.
While this may be the worst-case scenario, teachers accused of any form of impropriety by students may be suspended while criminal investigations are opened. In a litigious society, every action or activity taken should be heavily contemplated to avoid any misunderstandings.
Teachers suspended in the course of such an investigation would receive no payment even as investigations could take months to years. Additionally, teachers need to face the court of public opinion which instantly views male teachers as guilty in cases involving male teachers and female students.
Taking Pictures Of Students
Teachers are prohibited from taking pictures of students on their personal devices without the school’s permission. This is true even in the case of school events.
Teachers who violate this regulation could face consequences from the educational institution including suspension.
Posting Images Of Students On Social Media
Teachers are forbidden from posting images of students on their personal social media accounts irrespective of their reasons.
It doesn’t matter if you’re proud of the student for some form of achievement, you’re forbidden from publishing the student’s image on your personal social media accounts.
Posting student images without the explicit consent of the institution constitutes a breach of policy which could lead to consequences for unprofessional conduct.
After all, not every parent likes having their kids’ images on social media. Teachers who do this without permission would receive complaints from parents and could be penalized for the action depending on the parent and the severity of the perceived consequences.
Additionally, such actions are considered unprofessional behavior, especially in an age where people resort to posting anything online to gain likes and followers.
Student Privacy/Exposing Student Information To Third Parties
Teachers are forbidden from revealing any information about any particular student to other parents and students without consent from the school or legal guardian of the student in question.
Any personally identifiable information about a student should not be divulged to other parties.
Even in cases where multiple students are involved, teachers are forbidden from revealing any sensitive information about any particular student to another parent without the necessary approval.
Teachers who violate this regulation could face consequences depending on the sensitive nature of the information.
Keep in mind that Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) also protects the privacy of student educational records. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to consequences.
Social Media Friendship
While social media has become a part of our lives, teachers are prohibited from friending their students on social media. This is because social media friendship can lead to:
- Blurred lines between teachers and students
- Third-party misunderstandings
- Unconscious bias due to friendship
- Career risk
- Student accusations
- Compromised privacy
Teachers who breach social media guidelines could face consequences depending on the severity of any issues that arise. Social media guidelines for teachers include:
- Don’t post anything related to your students. This includes pictures of students irrespective of how proud you may be of their accomplishments
- Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Students may sometimes create accounts under unidentifiable names. To avoid unknowingly friending a student on social media, teachers are advised to only accept friend requests from people they know
- Don’t vent online. If you’re unhappy with your institution, students, or anything else related to your work, avoid venting your frustration on social media
- Don’t join groups that may be considered unprofessional or inappropriate. It’s advisable to exit such groups if you’re already a member of one
- Don’t use school equipment including computers for your personal tasks or social media activities
- Do not post on your personal social media accounts during school hours. Even in cases where you’re not teaching, refrain from geotagging your location in your post when you’re on school grounds. That perfect selfie will have to wait till after school and you’re off-campus
- Don’t post sensitive or offensive content. This includes posting images with alcohol or even posting bikini pictures
- Implement strict online privacy settings. Check privacy settings on social media to ensure you only share with people you know
Personal Channel Communication
Teachers are expected to only communicate with students through official channels. This includes the school-issue email addresses, learning management systems, and other official forums.
This makes it possible for administrators to review any conversations between teachers and students in the event of any issues.
Additionally, parents would also feel at ease knowing any conversation between their children and their teachers is being moderated by the educational institution.
Communicating with students through personal email addresses can not be accessed by the school. This means any teacher-student communication cannot be moderated and information cannot be retrieved in the event of an issue.
Teachers who breach their school’s policies on communication with students can face severe consequences.
Students Do Work At Your Home
This point is debated as it depends on the district or specific school’s policies. But if you need a babysitter or someone to mow your lawn, it’s better to hire someone else.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re paying them, as students coming to your home could lead to third-party misunderstanding and possible accusations.
As a result, some educational institutions forbid teachers and other staff from hiring students to perform any duties at their homes.
Rewards and punishment are necessary in every aspect of life including at school. Teachers may reward a student for good performance or penalize them for misbehavior.
That said, there’s a limit to how much punishment they can dish out. Harsh punishment even when punishment is justified could lead to severe consequences for the teacher.
Physically Restrain Students
Teachers are forbidden from using force to restrain a student who wants to leave a classroom unless in dangerous or medical situations.
Except in these exceptional cases, teachers who use force to restrain students without justifiable reasons could face legal consequences, especially in cases where the student receives some form of injury.