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Electronic Communications Between Employees Students & Parents

A certified or licensed employee, or any other employee designated in writing by the superintendent or a campus principal, may communicate through electronic media with students who are currently enrolled in the District. The employee must comply with the provisions outlined below. Electronic communications between all other employees and student who are enrolled in the District are prohibited. Upon request from administration, an employee will provide the phone number(s), social network site(s), or other information regarding the method(s) of electronic communication the employee uses to communicate with any one or more currently-enrolled students. Employees are not required to provide student with their personal phone number or e-mail address.

An employee is not subject to these provisions regarding electronic communications with a student to the extent the employee has a family or existing social relationship with a student. For example, an employee may have a relationship with a niece or nephew, a student who is the child of an adult friend, a student who is a friend of the employee's child, or a member or participant in the same civic, social, recreational, or religious organization. An employee who claims an exception based on a social relationship shall provide written consent from the student's parent. The written consent shall include an acknowledgement by the parent that:

  • The employee has provided the parent with a copy of this protocol;
  • The employee and the student have a social relationship outside of school;
  • The parent understands that the employee's communications with the student are expected from District regulation; and
  • The parent is solely responsible for monitoring electronic communications between the employee and the student.

The following definitions apply for the use of electronic media with students:

Electronic communications means any communication facilitated by the use of any electronic device, including a telephone, cellular telephone, computer, computer network, personal data assistant, or pager. The term includes e-mail, text messages, instant messages, and any communication made through an Internet website, including any social media website or any social networking website.

Communicate means to convey information and includes a one-way communication as well as a dialogue between two or more people. A public communication by an employee that is not targeted at student (e.g., a posting on the employee's personal social network page or blog) is not a communication; however, the employee may be subject to District regulations on personal electronic communications. See Personal Use of Electronic Communications, above. Unsolicited contact from a student through electronic means is not a communication.

Certified or licensed employee in a position requiring SBEC certification or a professional license, and whose job duties may require the employee to communicate electronically with students. The term includes classroom teachers, counselors, principals, librarians, paraprofessionals, nurses, educational diagnosticians, licensed therapists, and athletic trainers.

An employee who communicates electronically with students shall observe the following:

The employee is prohibited from knowingly communicating with students using any form of electronic communications, including mobile and web applications, including mobile and web applications, that are not provided or accessible by the District unless a specific exception is noted below.

Text messaging from employee cell phones to students is prohibited unless school related and approved by their supervisor. A teacher, trainer, or other employee who has an extracurricular duty may use text messaging, with an approval from their supervisor. Any text messaging for instructional purposes such as classroom student response systems must be approved by the supervisor prior to use in the classroom. With special approval from their supervisor, a teacher or other employee may use text messaging and them only to communicate with students over which the employee has responsibility regarding school related information. An employee who communicates with a student using text messaging shall comply with the following protocol:

  • The employee shall include at least one of the student's parents or guardians as a recipient on each text message to the student so that the student and parent receive the same message; or
  • The employee shall include his or her immediate supervisor as a recipient on each text message to the student so that the student and supervisor receive the same message; or
  • For each text message addressed to one or more students, the employee shall send a copy of the text message to the designated District email address.

The employee shall limit communications to matters within the scope of the employee's professional responsibilities (e.g., for classroom teachers, matters relating to class work, homework, and tests; for an employee with an extracurricular duty, matters relating to the extracurricular activity.)

The employee is prohibited from knowingly communicating with student through a personal social network page; the employee must utilize a District-approved social network page for the purpose of communicating with student. The employee must enable administration to access the employee's page, if electronically communicating with a student. Any page used to communicate with students must be approved by the Superintendent or Designee.

The employee does not have a right to private with respect to communications with students and parents and may be monitored at the District's discretion.

The employee continues to be subject to applicable state and federal laws, local policies, administrative regulations, and the Texas Educator's Code of Ethics, including:

  • Compliance with the Public Information Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), including retention and confidentiality of student records. [See Policies CPC and FL]
  • Copyright law [Policy EFE]
  • Prohibitions against soliciting or engaging in sexual conduct or a romantic relationship with a student. [See Policy DH]

Upon request from administration, an employee will provide the phone number(s), social network site(s), or other information regarding the method(s) of electronic media the employee uses to communicate with one or more currently-enrolled students.

Upon written request from a parent or student, the employees shall discontinue communicating with the student through email, text messaging, instant messaging, or any other form of one-to-one communication.

An employee may request an exception from one or more of the limitations above by submitting a written request to his or her immediate supervisor.

All staff is required to use school email accounts for all electronic communications with parents. Communication about school issues through personal email accounts or text messages are not allowed as they can be preserved in accordance with the District's record retention policy.

An employee shall notify his/her supervisor, in writing, within one business day if a student engages in improper electronic communication with the employee. The employee should describe the form and content of the electronic communication.