Technology links teachers to students outside class

FRESNO, Calif.

One expert says despite the benefits of those types of interactions, parents should be cautious.

Duran Garcia has taught chemistry at Sunnyside High School in Southeast Fresno for 11 years.

Over time, his teaching methods have evolved.

These days, every student has his e-mail address and cell phone number.

He even edits his daily lessons on video and then downloads them, so students can access it as a study guide.

"I actually download into their phones and their mp3 players, and what I've seen is a 10 to 15 percent increase in their test scores, and I actually had to make the tests more difficult," Garcia said.

Students we spoke with say they prefer the more personal interaction.

"Every teacher here, they have like a phone number for you to text or an email for you to email for them," Sunnyside student Chaseng Lee said.

While online and cell-phone interaction between a student and teacher has its benefits, some experts in the field say it's not a good idea. They warn one false move can destroy a teacher's career.

Dr. Paul Beare is the dean of Fresno State's education department.

"There's nothing good that happens when there's too personal of an interaction between teachers and kids," Beare said.

Before graduation, Beare said he meets with each student individually and tells them where to draw the line between teacher and student.

He says although inappropriate relationships are rare, they do happen.

In September of 2011, Washington Union High School teacher /*Nadia Diaz*/ was arrested for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old student.

In August, police arrested Clovis North drama teacher /*Andrew Cardillo*/ on allegations he carried on a year-and-a-half long sexual relationship with a student.

Both Diaz and Cardillo are on paid administrative leave, but neither has been charged with a crime.

"If you're a teacher and you're accused, you're guilty. Right? Probably your career is over. You're never going to recover from it," Beare said.

Beare says he does not condone cell phone calls, social networking or even texting between students and teachers.

But the teachers who do say they have their own guidelines in place.

"Those guidelines are set at the beginning of the year. don't call me after ten. And there's a professional relationship there," Garcia said.

Garcia said school administrators keep a watchful eye on what's going on.

"My principal, Cheryl Weaver, has told us over the last 5 years, when Myspace was a big hit, that we shouldn't be adding kids as friends and now that Facebook is popular, having students on your Facebook page is not necessarily a good idea," he said.

Students claim the majority of their classmates follow the rules.

"I think people use it to the best of their ability and they try to get their full education through it," Sunnyside student Dashanique Easter said.

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.