A Closer Look at NJ’s Policy for Student/Teacher Electronic Communications

We’ve written before about a new law in New Jersey, which went into effect this school year, that mandates that each school randolph-nj-schoolsdistrict must have a policy for electronic communications between teachers and students. The policy is intended to cover teacher/student email, all cell phone communications and social media interactions. Further, teacher communications with students prohibit the use of a teacher’s personal cell phone or email address.

Today we took a look at another school district’s policy, this one from Randolph NJ, that does a very good job of enumerating what exactly is considered inappropriate, and therefore prohibited:

  1. Communications of a sexual nature, sexually oriented humor or language, sexual advances, or content with a sexual overtone;
  2. Communications involving the use, encouraging the use, or promoting or advocating the use of alcohol or tobacco, the illegal use of prescription drugs or controlled dangerous substances, illegal gambling, or other illegal activities;
  3. Communications regarding the teaching staff member’s or student’s past or current romantic relationships;
  4. Communications which include the use of profanities, obscene language, lewd comments, or pornography;
  5. Communications that are harassing, intimidating, or bullying;
  6. Communications requesting or trying to establish a personal relationship with a student beyond the teaching staff member’s professional responsibilities;
  7. Communications related to personal or confidential information regarding another school staff member or student; and
  8. Communications between the teaching staff member and a student that the Commissioner of Education or an arbitrator would determine to be inappropriate in determining the teaching staff member is unfit to discharge the duties and functions of their position.

This looks to us like a pretty sound set of guidelines. Most of the items on the list would be a concern for parents if they were happening, and it looks like the Board of Educations is more than willing to hold teachers responsible for appropriate conduct.

Parents should keep in mind that in a district such as this one, while there is a Student Code of Conduct, there is not a specific policy for student electronic communications with teachers. It’s up to parents to establish clear guidelines for kids as to what is appropriate, and don’t forget about social media.


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