Missouri law bans certain teacher/student online communications
Aug. 2, 2011The Dickinson Law Newsroom
Missouri law bans certain online communications between teachers and students

Missouri has just passed a law prohibiting certain online communications between teachers and students.  The Amy Hestir Student Protection Action more broadly aims to protect students from sexual abuse, but the controversial provision in the law reaching student and teacher social media usage and online activity is section 162.069, which provides:

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. Former student is defined as any person who was at one time a student at the school at which the teacher is employed and who is eighteen years of age or less and who has not graduated.

Although it’s been coined the “Facebook law,” it reaches other online communication tools, as well.  And it doesn’t necessarily ban all contact between students and teachers online – just communications on a “website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.” 

The full version of this article is available online at Erickson’s Social Networking Law Blog.

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