Facebook is off limits between teachers and students in Missouri
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 Update: In October, 2011, the governor of Missouri repealed the law essentially leaving it up to school districts to impose rules and regulations regarding teacher-student contact.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.