Can your child’s teacher “friend” them on social media?


SPOKANE, Wash. -A number of students in the Inland Northwest grabbed their backpacks and headed back-to-school Thursday.

While friendships will be reunited, and new ones forged, there is another relationship parents should pay attention to. And it can all be stored in your child's phone.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are very popular among children and adults these days. But there is a bit of a gray area when it comes to whether students can add school staff members as friends or vice versa.

When setting the standard for student-staff relationships both on and off campus, the Spokane Public School District refers to policy 5253.

It's the guideline for maintaining professional boundaries, including interactions between students and teachers on social media.

“Ideally the guidance is to maintain an educational purpose with your communication,” said SPS Spokesperson, Brian Coddington.

Coddington says staff should avoid using Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms to communicate with students, but realizes there are certain exceptions.

“Spokane is a small community, so those situations are going to exist where there are already relationships between families and students and teachers,” said Coddington. "So we recognize that and we want to make sure it's workable for everybody.”

According to the policy, staff should avoid emailing students, texting them and contacting them via social media except when it relates to school business.

“You want to really avoid the appearance of any perception of wrongdoing or put yourself in a situation where there is a possibility something can go wrong,” said Coddington.

The policy also states that if a teacher feels there is a reason to contact the student on social media, it has to be pre-approved.

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