The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 7, 2013

A hard lesson

The Register-Herald

— For the second time in just a matter of weeks, members of the Raleigh County Board of Education have voted to terminate a teacher for engaging in a texting relationship with a student.

In both instances the board acted upon the recommendation of the superintendent of schools, who determined that, at the very least, the communication between the teacher and the student was inappropriate.

Law enforcement authorities, in both cases, are continuing their investigations as to whether something criminal occurred and have indicated that, in their opinions, the texting was far from what could be considered to be normal or harmless.

As police continue their probing, a clear message is being sent that this type of conduct in our school system won’t be tolerated — and it shouldn’t.

For whatever reason, many people in today’s society, and especially youngsters, feel emboldened by electronic communication. So much so, in fact, that rarely do they worry about being held accountable for what they put out there in the cyberworld.

In short, they don’t care.

But they should.

While these two particular cases appear to having strikingly different components — one appears to have been initiated by the teacher, the other by the student — in both instances, the adults engaged and it went too far in the minds of those in charge.

BOE President Richard Snuffer told our reporter after the most recent firing that he’s “amazed” by how people will make statements electronically that they would not make in person.

He added that board members will be reinforcing to employees the importance of maintaining professional conduct in text messages and on other electronic media. Current school policies, including ones related to electronic media, are under review.

These two cases should definitely put adults and kids on notice that there are serious repercussions involved, no matter the setting, when you press that send button to text something that can be construed as unacceptable or over the line.

It’s a lesson everyone should learn from.