Should teachers be allowed to 'friend' students on social media?
The Hamilton County Department of Education is speaking out after an Ooltewah High School teacher admitted to sending inappropriate messages to a student over social media.
The district says social media is becoming more present in the classroom and they hope teachers are keeping it professional.
"It's either appropriate or it's not," Hamilton County Schools spokesperson Tim Hensley said.
Police identified the teacher as 24-year-old Chandler Morris. A police report says Morris asked a student to have sex with him over Snapchat and said he was okay with "going the predator route."
The police report says Morris admitted his intentions of "hooking up" with the student in a Walmart bathroom during their lunch break, causing the victim to notify the school's administration.
"The teacher was no longer employed after that day," said Hensley.
Hensley says the district doesn't have a set policy that students and teachers can't be friends on social media.
"You're communicating with them as a professional educator and a teacher," Hensley told Channel 3. "What we are looking for is, is it something that is going to benefit them academically?"
He says online communication between teachers and students is becoming a more popular avenue in the field of education.
"That's where they are, that's what they've grown up with, that's what they know. So, we have to be able to reach our students in the realm that they understand to help them learn," Hensley added.
He says no matter what the method of communication is, the Hamilton County Department of Education won't tolerate any kind of behavior that negatively affects a learning environment.
"Our standards are professionalism and ethics and that's what we expect of everyone, everyday," said Hensley.
Hensley says they encourage teachers to interact with students in a group setting if they're going to use social media as a form of communication.
Chandler Morris is charged with solicitation and sexual exploitation of a minor.
He is scheduled to appear in court September 16.