Senate repeals social-networking rules
A repeal of Missouri's recently passed social-networking law has passed the state Senate unanimously.
Senate Bill 54 would have hindered teachers' ability to use social media or text messaging to communicate with students. Sen. Jane Cunningham, sponsor of the original law, filed Senate Bill 1 during the legislature’s special session that started this month.
The Senate passed SB1 33-0, and will move it to the House, where it will be assigned to a committee. If the committee approves the bill, it becomes eligible to be heard and debated on the House floor.
SB1 requires every school district to have a written policy concerning employee-student communication by March 1, 2012. The original bill stated that teachers could not interact with students via electronic means unless the communication was visible to the district and parents.
The language under concern was part of the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which included many provisions that MSTA supported. The law did not name any social network, but would have limited electronic communications between district employees and students.
Many teachers and administrators interpreted this to mean that teachers would be forbidden to contact students via Facebook or text message, and that they could also not use educational products such as Moodle. Many teachers feared they would be penalized for being friends with their own children on Facebook.
In August, MSTA sued the state in Cole County Circuit Court, challenging the constitutionality of social-media provisions of the bill. Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem granted MSTA’s request for a preliminary injunction to keep the law from taking effect on Aug. 28. MSTA has not dropped the suit.
Read about the injunction here.
Read about MSTA's lawsuit here.