Student teachers in Mississippi will now be held accountable by the Department of Education if they are found to have had an inappropriate relationship while teaching in the classroom.
The Mississippi Board of Education voted to close the loophole in state policy that said only certified teachers can be held to the state's code of ethics. The codes ban any relationship between school officials and students, and now student teachers in Mississippi schools will be fall under that same code. Cerissa Neal is with the Department of Education.
"We require them to go into the schools to conduct their student teaching in K-12 settings, but we don't do anything to protect the students from any kind of misconduct that may occur," says Neal. "I think that if we do that for the traditional teachers, all those other teachers that are hired full-time, we really need to do that for other segment of the population."
According to Neal, the state will now issue student teachers an interim teaching certification. This allows the state to hold them accountable for their actions. Some members of the board, like Johnny Franklin of Bolton, say the state should not be in charge of regulating those interns.
"Let the universities deal with that," Franklin says. "If we go in now and do something, and a parent gets upset, who are they going to take it out on? Who are they coming after? they're not going to the universities. They're coming here, and we've got all we can do already. We got 33,000 teachers already."
Under the new policy, any teaching intern found to have violated the code of ethics would be held to the same standards as a full teacher.