By prohibiting teachers from communicating with students on websites that allow “exclusive access,” the law could be interpreted as meaning teachers couldn’t be on sites such as Facebook at all, said state Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, who presented the bill to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.
“We screwed this up,” Kelly said of the law, which won unanimous legislative approval earlier this year as part of a larger education bill.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article later notes my opposition to the bill and ends with an MSTA official saying what I have been saying all along- the social networking part of the bill, including the revision with its mandated policies that each school district has to devise, are not going to stop even one teacher who is inclined to cross the line with students:
Mike Wood of the Missouri State Teachers Association said giving authority back to local school districts would also give teachers a voice in the crafting of any new policy.
“If teachers are part of the process, then they can have input and can help craft a good policy,” Wood said.
And if someone felt the district went too far and was infringing on their First Amendment then a lawsuit could be brought to force the district to institute a policy that is constitutional, Kelly said.
Turner said he would be "greatly surprised if there are more than a handful of school districts that will actually give teachers a say in the policies."
"Instead of looking to curb First Amendment rights of people who have never committee any crime and would never think of doing so, they need to be educating administrators, teachers, and students on the warning signs that a teacher might be crossing the line or considering it," Turner said.
Despite the intentions of the law, Wood said he has doubts that new policies governing electronic communication will do much good in preventing improper contact between students and teachers.
“I don’t know if this law will stop anyone who wants to do something inappropriate from doing something inappropriate,” he said.