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Teacher following students on Instagram prompts concern from parents

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - An Osceola County parent became upset after learning that her 13-year-old daughter's middle-school teacher was following the child on the social media website Instagram.

The revelation also has at least one Osceola County school board member questioning policy guidelines.

A two-page policy outlines the school district's social media guidelines that every teacher signs. Now some school board members want to be sure the policy is up-to-date.

One high school senior told Channel 9's Ryan Hughes that he would be concerned if he discovered that a teacher was following him on a social media site.

"I would question, you know, why they started following me, what was the reason behind it," Nicholas Osorlo said.

Osceola County School Board Member Jay Wheeler said he was surprised to find the middle school teacher was following several eighth-grade female students on their Instagram pages.

'"You could've knocked me over with a feather. I couldn't believe it," Wheeler said. "It really creeped me out. It's like parking a car in front of the house of a 13-year-old."

Wheeler brought the issue up at a recent school board meeting, where it was revealed that there was some ambiguity over teacher-student relationships on sites like Instagram and Facebook.

The district's policy reads: "It could be reasonably viewed as inappropriate for district employees to communicate with current students enrolled in the district on any public social networking site."

"I view it as inappropriate. Obviously just staying it's inappropriate is not strong enough and we need to beef it up," said Wheeler.

In the coming months district leaders said they will re-examine the policy, and look at making the guidelines more strict.

"Technically this teacher hasn't done anything wrong?" Hughes asked Wheeler.

"Technically they haven't, but you know at the same time common sense would dictate a grown man shouldn't be following kids on the Internet.