The following was included in TCTA's 2018-19 Survival Guide, the ultimate reference tool for Texas educators, and is current as of September 2018 but is subject to change. The information below is for information purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for advice from an attorney. TCTA members with specific legal questions should call 888-879-8282 to speak with a staff attorney.

School districts are required by law to adopt a policy regarding electronic communications between employees and students. Most districts’ policies extend standards of conduct to use of electronic media and social networking sites, and the Code of Ethics imposes limitations on such communications.

Educators are held to the same standards of conduct in their use of electronic media and social networking as for any other public communication. All communications with students or minors, whether electronic or in person, should be professional and appropriate.

Many districts have even adopted policies specifying that teachers may communicate with their own children and their children’s friends using personal social networking sites, but may not do so with current or former students with whom there is no separate social relationship. Some districts have policies that designate only specific individuals who may send text messages to students and place time limitations on when educators may communicate with students.

TCTA-initiated legislation that was passed as part of SB 7 says that teachers may decline to disclose their personal email or cellphone number to students.

Continuing education requirements

Information about inappropriate relationships, boundaries and communications between educators and students must be included in the content presented in each educator preparation program. Continuing education requirements specify that instruction regarding understanding of appropriate relationships, boundaries and communications between educators and students must be covered as 25 percent of the training required of a classroom teacher every five years.

See also:

Educator use of social media

Professional boundaries with students

Laws that impact the student-to-student relationship

Tips for new teachers