Teachers could use refresher on social media policies: GVTA

The B.C. Teacher's Federation (BCTF) has an active social media strategy and regularly provides social media workshops for teachers.

The acting president of the Greater Victoria Teacher’s Association (GVTA) believes it may be time to remind teachers about acceptable social media usage after a former Victoria High School teacher admitted to sending sexual messages to a student on Twitter.

The B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) has an active social media strategy and regularly provides social media workshops for teachers, training them how to use social media as professionals and citizens.

Jason Gammon, acting president of the GVTA, said the union has yet to utilize the workshop, but it may be time.

“We have a lot of younger and new teachers coming in that are way more social media savvy,” said Gammon. “This is a message we hammer to teachers all the time — you’re a professional and you work in a vulnerable sector so be aware of your responsibilities.”

Last week, the BCTF released an agreement reached with Anthony Drolet — a young teacher (employed by the Greater Victoria School District No. 61), who relinquished his certificate of qualification in October 2014.

According to the agreement, a female who had graduated from the school in June 2012 returned to take additional courses between September and November. When she graduated, the student, like some other students, followed Drolet on his Twitter account.

In May 2013, Drolet contacted the student on Twitter, then over the course of three weeks, sent numerous inappropriate messages of a sexual nature — including references to having sex with her. Messages were also sent by text.

A month later, Drolet called in sick to work, but the district learned he had actually gone to Seattle for a stag party. During that weekend, he sent the student more inappropriate messages.

Drolet was suspended in June, then terminated in August that same year, marking the end of his teaching career.

Gammon can’t recall the last time a teacher lost their licence, but said it reminds teachers of their moral standards when dealing with children and teens.

Working as an elementary teacher, Gammon has had friend requests on social media from students, but chose to decline.

“I think teachers need to be really careful. I would personally never friend a student on Facebook…I think most teachers are pretty aware of that,” said Gammon, who hasn’t heard of any other teachers during the last three years landing in hot water for their actions on social media.

“We always tell teachers, you’re a teacher first. We have a higher moral obligation than other members of society because we are working in a vulnerable sector.”