Seminole Co. considers limiting teacher, student Facebook interaction

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

Seminole County school leaders are considering changes to limit what contact teachers can have with students on social media sites like Facebook.

The goal is to prevent improper relationships from developing.

WFTV's Bianca Castro asked how the district would enforce the policy.

The school district is now laying down some strict rules of its own for employees who use social media.

If any communication to a student comes across as romantic, that teacher will be disciplined, and possibly fired.

"It could be as simple as two people falling in love, but you as a teacher, have the responsibility as the adult to be able to protect these students," said K.T. Caldwell, president of the Seminole Education Association, the teachers' union.

Just this year, WFTV reported on almost 20 examples of adults with authority spawning relationships with kids online.

"There's no way that my daughter should be friends with a teacher on Facebook," said Seminole County parent Shayla McNeil.

The district doesn't have plans to monitor every teacher's Facebook page. Instead, they're relying on students, parents and staff to report anything inappropriate they see.

WFTV asked why not ban teachers from being social media friends with students in the first place.

The teacher's union said that would be a violation of free speech, and the district would face a legal battle.

Still, McNeil feels the fight may be worth it.

"There are too many teachers that are having relationships with their students now, that are too close in contact where they shouldn't have been," said McNeil.

The school board will vote on the policy next week. At that time, it will also consider a new distracted driving policy.

That measure would prohibit employees from using their cellphones in their personal vehicles while conducting school business.