House Approves Bill Requiring Student Communications to Include Parent

Ponca City Now - May 9, 2024 11:31 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House adopted Senate amendments to a bill that would require school personnel engaging in electronic or digital communication with a student to include the student’s parent or guardians.

House Bill 3958, authored by Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, now moves to the governor.

“There have been absolutely too many reports of inappropriate digital communications shared between educators and students, whether that be inappropriate pictures or texts of a sexual nature,” Conley said. “These have long-term devastating effects for young people and can ruin the lives of educators when they are wrongly accused. It’s our desire that teachers and coaches be able to share homework assignments or team communications freely with their students, but including a parent or guardian protects the students and the educators from any potential impropriety. This also keeps parents fully engaged in their child’s education.”

Exceptions may be made in case of an emergency, subject to subsequent notification to the parent or guardian. The measure stipulates that school personnel shall make reasonable efforts to use school-approved platforms, systems or applications that allow automatic inclusion of parents or guardians in communications with students.

HB3958 specifies that schools shall provide training, developed by the State Department of Education, for school personnel on the student communication requirements within the act.

Any school personnel reported to be in violation of the new act shall be put on administrative leave while the school district investigates the incident and notifies the local and state boards of education.

If the investigation finds no misconduct occurred, the school personnel shall be reinstated with the incident noted in the employee’s file. If the investigation finds misconduct occurred, the school personnel’s employment shall be terminated, and the incident shall be reported to law enforcement pursuant to state statute.

The act would become effective July 1.

Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, is the Senate author of the measure.

-END-

Sherrie Conley serves District 20 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes parts of Cleveland and McClain counties.

 

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