Missouri Law Bans Teachers to Befriend Students on Facebook

With the explosion of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, Missouri lawmakers have designed a new law that cracks down on student-teacher relationships. Mid-July marked a change in the way teachers throughout the state of Missouri are allowed to reach out to their students. The overall goal is to prevent student-teacher “sexual misconduct” inside and outside the classroom, by forcing schools to develop policies pertaining to communication of any kind between teachers and their students.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law the Senate Bill 54 on July 14th, which Section 162.069 reads:

           “Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”

The bill was also designed to require school districts to report any suspected abuse within 24 hours. This will hold the district liable for any misconduct between its employees and students.

It is clear the states intent to protect minors against inappropriate contact with teachers, however, in an age of technology and social awareness, is prohibiting Facebook contact taking it too far? Many teachers use social networking as a tool to best engage their students.

Additional Information:
Senate Bill 54
Office of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

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