• Facebook is off limits between teachers and students in Missouri

    Date: 08.02.11 | by Judge Tom.

    The state of Missouri has passed legislation prohibiting contact between teachers and students on social networking websites. In what is argued to be an effort to protect students, all schools are required to have written policies in place concerning teacher-student and employee-student communications by 2012.

    The bill was signed into law in August, 2011. The pertinent section reads as follows:

    Missouri Statute 162.069 – By January 1, 2012, every school district must develop a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communications. Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communication, which may be combined with sexual harassment policies, and appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites. 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. (emphasis added)

    The last two sentences go into effect on August 28, 2011. This means at the beginning of the new 2011-2012 school year later this month, teachers must be aware of the law and its requirements. [Just before the law became effective, a court entered what is called a "stay" meaning it doesn't go into effect until the case is settled by agreement or a trial.] The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon,  also asked the legislature to repeal the law.

    The restrictions are not limited to Facebook. Although referred to as the Facebook Law, they apply to all social networking websites (MySpace, YouTube, email accounts, etc). Update: In October, 2011, the governor of Missouri repealed the law essentially leaving it up to school districts to impose rules and regulations regarding teacher-student contact.

    Check out this story about “friending” teachers and students.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    4 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Askthejudge.info
      Wed, 03 Aug 2011 at 12:47

      New blog post: Facebook is off limits between teachers and students in Missouri http://ow.ly/1e4seg

    • Askthejudge.info
      Wed, 03 Aug 2011 at 02:20

      Does Missouri's new law prohibiting contact between teachers and students on Facebook make sense? http://fb.me/BphwsEIp

    • Oklahoma Divorce
      Sat, 06 Aug 2011 at 09:30

      It should be off limits. That way there is no way for someone to misinterpret what was or was not communicated.

    • Tulsa Divorce Attorney
      Mon, 15 Aug 2011 at 09:04

      Facebook is a great environment for friends to chat amongst themselves. With the student teacher relationship, there has to be a clearly drawn line of authority.

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