Is it ethical and legal for a High School teacher to date an 18 year old former student?
Many are answering this with simple opinions. Teacher conduct is very specifically defined under state law. Many states have a “immoral or unprofessional conduct clause” in their education code. The State issuing board for the credential takes these cases very seriously. You or I do not decide, The local school district must convene a hearing to decide if this is against community standards. ( I know it wouldnt be acceptable in my community – think about who runs your school board)
Here is California’s Ed code on the subject:
44421. “The Commission for Teacher Preparation and Licensing shall privately admonish, publicly reprove, revoke or suspend for immoral or unprofessional conduct”
First of all, I don’t think it matters if it’s a male or not for this question, but the fact that you bought it up makes it sound like that bothers you. It sounds like gender bias on your part when you do that (would it be any better for you if this was a woman?) and it’s off-putting. I’m not saying that IS the fact, I’m just saying that is the perception.
Next: I don’t know of a community in the U.S. where the age of consent is over 18. At 18, we are all allowed to vote, drive, join the military and offer our lives, and are totally responsible for any contracts we enter by law. What he is doing is perfectly legal. That part isn’t an “opinion”. It’s a fact.
Now for “opinions”: I DO think it’s unethical to date a student you were just teaching 6 months ago. There are still students in class that know her and it creates an atmosphere that could easily be construed as “too familiar” to say the least. I’m also stunned that your school doesn’t have a policy discouraging that sort of behaviour. Perhaps the administration never dreamed such an event could happen.
It sounds like he has some serious ethical issues in general if this could even be an option for him. Thirty and Eighteen aren’t really that far apart chronologically, but the idea of dating anyone you had major sway over (especially a student) is morally “iffy”. If he can’t see this, he’ll probably have some major issues ahead of him.
In a sexual harrassment seminar I went to 2 years ago, the speaker (a lawyer, Jerry Painter) said to not date your students period, whether they are of-age and graduated or not. If another current student complains about the teacher, the fact that he is dating or dated a former student will not look good, even if he hasn’t done anything legally wrong.
She is not his student, so it is not unethical.
If you worked for a boss, quit your job, and then started to date him, do you think that would be unethical? It wouldn’t be, because you NO LONGER work for him. The same thing goes for school — once the student graduates, it doesn’t matter that the teacher USED to give her grades; he doesn’t anymore.
Do I think it is wise for an 18-year-old to date a 30-year-old? No, I don’t think it’s a good idea. But it’s her decision, and their business.
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