It's reminiscent of the Pink Floyd classic, isn't it? Hey teachers...leave them kids alone. Should teachers be allowed to have MySpace, Facebook, and other social media sites? Sure, what teachers do on their own time is largely their own business. However, as Jeffrey Spanierman, an English teacher in Ansonia, Connecticut, found, it's all too easy to get too friendly with students on MySpace.
He became so friendly, in fact, that his contract was not renewed and his ensuing lawsuit against the district was thrown out by a judge who, like the school administration, believed that his online interaction with students had become inappropriate and unprofessional. The naked pictures of men on his MySpace that students could view probably didn't help either.
As Ars Technica points out,
The case is one in which the school district was "reasonable" to expect "a teacher with supervisory authority over students, to maintain a professional, respectful association with those students. This does not mean that the Plaintiff could not be friendly or humorous; however, upon review of the record, it appears that the Plaintiff would communicate with students as if he were their peer, not their teacher."
Outside of school, most of us tend to be friendlier with students. However, if we meet a student at the grocery store, we're still his or her teacher and are expected to act with some degree of professionalism and decorum. We don't invite them over for a beer. MySpace is no different.
My advice? If you're a social media sort of person, don't add students as your friends and set your profiles to private. Is it really worth offending a student or parent (and possibly losing your job) just so everyone can see the cell phone picture of you drunk at the faculty Christmas party?