[lg policy] Missouri School Boards Look at Facebook Fix Language

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 4 16:20:54 UTC 2012

Missouri School Boards Look at Facebook Fix Language

Updated: January 3, 2012

(Jefferson City, MO) --

After a long legislative battle, the issue of regulating online
teacher-student communications has now fallen onto Missouri's
individual school district boards. Late last month, the Missouri State
Teachers Association issued its proposed language for new government
mandated rules to monitor the ever changing world of online
communications in regard to contact with students.

"As schools start coming back into session we're starting to receive
feedback on the draft," said Todd Fuller, spokesman for MSTA. "So far
it's been pretty positive."  MSTA's language is technically just a
suggestion for school districts. The new law merely requires that
school boards adopt an online communication policy for their district
by March 1. Many districts will likely adopt MSTA's or some other
education group's proposal verbatim, with perhaps some slight changes.

MSTA was at the heart of the controversy surrounding this rule - the
so-called "Facebook Rule." The rule was originally part of the Amy
Hestir Student Protection Act, which passed the state general assembly
in 2011 after years of being rejected.

The Amy Hestir Law is primarily concerned with protecting students
from being taken advantage of sexually by a teacher or school
employee. It includes rules that require school employees to notify
authorities of suspected sexual abuse within 24 hours and makes
districts liable for failing to disclose known or suspected sexual
impropriety of former employees to other school districts.

But one provision that would have limited all private electronic
communications between students and teachers - including
communications through social media sites like Facebook - was deemed a
step too far by MSTA and other teachers groups. The group filed a
lawsuit to overturn the rule, but state lawmakers quickly capitulated
during September's special session and changed the language to make it
more relaxed - adopting the so-called "Facebook Fix."

The Facebook Fix required merely that districts adopt a policy on
social media, but not necessarily one that prohibits closed

And the draft language from MSTA that they hope many districts will
adopt in coming months reflects that. The policy puts strict teacher
conduct guidelines on school sponsored electronic communication
systems and requires parental permission for students to used school
sponsored forums.

But the MTSA language puts no rules on non-work-related communications.

"The balancing of the individual employee's Constitutional rights to
freedom of speech, association, and religion outweigh the interests of
the school district in the non-work-related activities of its
employees, subject to conduct and communications already regulated by
local, state and federal law," the policy states.

Fuller said feedback from superintendents on the new draft policy has
been positive so far, but that his organizations hope school boards
will take a good hard look and customize it to the needs of their

http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=580673We recognize that every
district is different and there can not be a one size fits all
policy," Fuller said.

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