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Teachers Have Questions about ‘Facebook Law’

Missouri Senate Bill 41, the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, requires school districts to create a policy banning teachers from using the Internet to communicate with students.

Educators, parents and students want to know more about Missouri ‘Facebook Law’ that prevents teachers and students from keeping in contact using internet-based technology.

The law, named the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act after a junior high school student who was sexually assaulted by an instructor, goes into effect on Aug. 28. 

The law is meant to protect juveniles from sexual predators, said The American Bar Association Journal, the professional publication for attorneys. 

Missouri’s law prohibits teachers from using a non-work computer system to have an exclusive communication with a current or former students, the ABAJournal said.

Internet websites such as Facebook and Google documents, according to Missouri news site KSDK.com, allow people to keep in contact, discuss ideas and share documents. 

Teachers can use the sites to tutor students, answer homework questions and keep in contact years after the graduation, stated a Foxnews.com website article about the .

The new law seems to go to far, stated a Stltoday.com article, because it can prevent teachers from helping students instead of only protecting children from predators.

The Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA) filed a lawsuit Friday to stop the law sponsored by Missouri State Senator Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, reported a .

The law was meant to force school districts to show the actions taken when dealing with teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

For years, Cunningham, a former Ladue school board member, has bemoaned a practice she's described as "passing the trash," as teachers accused of misconduct would float from one school district to another, the article stated.

 

Town and Country-Manchester Patch Editor Gabrielle Biondo, Creve CoeurPatch Editor Gregg Palmero and Ladue-Frontenac Patch Editor James Baer contributed to this article.

Dottie Everett August 21, 2011 at 03:14 PM
Where it says former students, what about a 20 years old college student? how long does this law follow students? Personally I do think this lw is way too vague, the idea sounds good but it needs a lot of refinement.
Emily Malabey August 22, 2011 at 01:51 AM
I am performing more research on the law, and the case of Amy Hestir. I understand the concerns that probably brought the law into fruition, but I also understand the teachers, parents, and students' questions. I probably will find myself in disagreement with the lawsuit, however. I am not sure how that can make any of this any better. People already speculate on the ethics of teachers and students socializing on social networks, and teachers/students do not *need* to communicate through facebook. I have had parents tell me it was hard work to just get an email or use a school website. As a parent, I have said it before. I would feel encouraged by my child wanting to reach out to their teacher beyond school hours. As I said, I need to do more research. How about we as a country do a better job of ensuring quality teachers, and oversight in the education arena before we start getting upset and passing legislation that at least sounds like it may be unenforceable like so many other laws the schools are frankly ignoring? If we were assuring quality in education systems, none of us would be as worried about a teacher connecting with our children on Facebook.
Emily Malabey August 25, 2011 at 04:29 PM
So far, it appears that this law does not prevent students and teachers from "being friends on Facebook", but prevents private, hidden dialogue. It also appears that the school districts will be charged with the "oversight" and "enforcement" of the law. So, based on my experience with federal and state laws being blatantly ignored every day by districts around the US, including but not limited to here in Missouri, I am unsure as to the passionate, costly and time consuming lawsuit reaction. I will keep my eyes and ears open, however.

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