Report: Texas ranks No. 1 in inappropriate student-teacher relationships

School districts rules hope to avoid social media problems

ABILENE, Texas - Facebook, Twitter, texting and other social media sometimes drive our daily communication, but when does it go too far?

A recent report authored by Terry Abbott, former chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush, shows Texas leads the nation in inappropriate relationships between teachers and students.

In the report, Abbott counted 26 inappropriate teacher-student relationships in Texas this year. He said most of these problems start from social media.

At Wylie ISD online group chats between teachers and groups of students are permitted, but not one-on-one conversations.

"We really emphasize to our staff that anytime there's any type of electronic communication to do that in group messages," Wylie ISD Superintendent Joey Light said.

In order to use the internet at Abilene ISD every student and teacher must sign an "Acceptable Use Policy" every year. Nearby districts like Sweetwater, Coleman and Merkel have similar agreements. 

The AUP contains basic rules and notification that online activity may be monitored. All social media sites are blocked on Abilene ISD computers.

In 2011 former Cooper High teacher Elizabeth Proctor was arrested for having an improper relationship with a student. Proctor's sentence was deferred. She received probation, community service, a fine and lost her teacher's license.

Light said he believes Texas is the worst in rank because more people are speaking up.

"In Texas a possible reason for the increased number of reportings is because superintendents are highly encouraged to report all incidents," Light said.

Abbott said he believes it's an epidemic and more action needs to be taken.

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