CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - With a defined goal of avoiding teacher/student misconduct, the Arkansas School Board Association has a recommendation.
The Arkansas School Board Association is suggesting districts across the state take a look at teacher-student relationships.
The Arkansas School Board Association is a non-profit organization that provides model policies to districts across the state and one of those policies is to ban teacher-student friendships on Facebook. After the arrest of Hazen coach Brent Morris whose alleged sexual relationship with a student began on the social networking site, some districts are trying to head off trouble before it starts.
Brent Morris began coaching football and girls' basketball at Hazen in August of 2009. A month later police say he had an inappropriate Facebook conversation with a underage student.
The seventeen year old girl writes, ""I have the world's BIGGEST thing for you...if you didn't guess already.... My heart like flutters every time I see you, I can't believe it!"
Morris replies, "...That's sweet but if that's the case, we have to walk on eggshells....Just understand that if this did leak out, I'll be unemployed, broke and everything else and I know that's not attractive."
Thursday, it did leak out with Morris charged with five counts of sexual misconduct after investigators say he admitted having sex with the student.
"The fact that it involves the internet or Facebook doesn't really change the equation," says Kristen Gould, Staff Attorney for the Arkansas School Boards Association. She says a new policy urging teachers not to befriend students on Facebook prevents conversations like these.
"The teacher behaves in a friend to friend way instead of a teacher to student way, so I think over time, those traditional boundaries are broken down and sometimes that's where the trouble comes in," says Gould.
Conway Public School District plans to enact a teacher-student Facebook policy by May 1st. Students Alexandria Combs and Stephanie Freyaldenhoven say there is a solution to inappropriate relationships without making rules.
"If the school set up their own Facebook and each of the teachers had their own Facebook connected to that, then it would look a lot more appropriate," says Freyaldenhoven.
But that's not how parent Brenda Thomas who actually lives in the Russellville School District sees it.
"I'd really prefer my daughter not to be friends with her teachers on Facebook because that is for her friends and her acquaintances, not for the teacher," says Thomas.
Conway Superintendent Rob Harder says they are in the drafting process of the Facebook policy. Kristen Gould says this isn't a one size fits all rule. Each district can change the policy to fit their community.