Missouri State Teachers Association filed a lawsuit against the state, state governor and
attorney general last month to battle a new law that would forbid teachers from
having "exclusive access" with students on Internet sites.
The law, which was to take effect on August 28 and was called the Amy Hestir
Student Protection Act (after a Missouri student who was molested decades ago),
aimed to prevent inappropriate behavior between teachers and students by restricting
out-of-school contact. Teachers would not be allowed to interact with students
on the internet "exclusively," meaning through private messages. The
contact would have to be publicly seen by parents and administrators.
But teachers fought back, saying that students needed that out-of-school
contact for help with homework or confidentiality about subjects like bullying.
Now, the Missouri State Teachers Association has won the battle. The law has
been repealed through the Missouri Stat Senate, according to ZDNet.
Senator Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield), who sponsored the Amy Hestir Student
Protection Act, filed Senate Bill 1 this month, and the Senate now passed SB1
33-0. It will now be taken to the House, be assigned to a committee, and if
approved, will become eligible to be debated on the House floor.
SB1 requires each Missouri school district to have a written policy regarding
employee-student communication by March 1, 2012.
The Missouri State Teachers Association also asked the Circuit Court of Cole
County to review the constitutionality of the law's social media section last
month. Teachers worried that this new law was broad enough to ban them from
having a Facebook, or from "friending" their own children who are
Missouri students. They argued that this infringed on First Amendment rights.
Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem granted the group a preliminary injunction
that lasts for 180 days and will expire February 20, 2012.
The Missouri State Teachers Association has not dropped its lawsuit despite
quote: In no way does this law take away the responsibility of the parents to their children.
quote: Society has changed in this digital age in regards to the rules of engagement of private communications. In the past, to keep a private, secret relationship, it required personal contact or writing letters.