Saturday, December 16, 2017

Student-teacher social networking ban on hold for now

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Romance, Lust & Passion

A preliminary injunction was placed Friday on part of Missouri’s
Senate Bill 54, which limits student-teacher communication on
social networking sites such as Facebook.

According to a press release from the Missouri State Teacher’s
Association, Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem granted MSTA’s
request for the injunction. MSTA requested Aug. 19 that the circuit
court in Cole County determine the constitutionality of the social
media portion of the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act.

“MSTA believes the bill signed into law by Gov. Jay Nixon in July
infringes on educators’ first amendment rights of free speech,
association and religion,” said a news release from Aug. 19 on
MSTA’s website. “MSTA is asking the court to keep that section of
law from being implemented until the constitutionality can be
determined.” The rest of the law went into effect Sunday.

Friday’s MSTA press release says that “Judge Beetem stated that the
law ‘clearly prohibits communication between family members and
their teacher parents using these types of sites. The court finds
that the statute would have a chilling effect on speech.’”

According to the press release, the injunction will be effective
for 180 days and will expire on Feb. 20. The injunction will allow
a trial before the statute is implemented. During this time,
“teachers cannot be disciplined or suffer adverse consequences for
using non-work related social media.”

Bolivar High School teacher Betty Glasgow spoke out against the
bill on Facebook and to the H-FP after it was passed in July.
Because of the law, she had to “unfriend” 200-250 students from her
social networking site. When Judge Beetem’s ruling came down
Friday, Glasgow got the go-ahead from her school’s principal to
“refriend” the students.

Glasgow said the law would have limited her ability to monitor her
children’s Facebook pages.

“[I]t was going to interfere with my right to parent and monitor my
own children’s activities on the social network,” she said. “As a
teacher, being able to communicate with our students is essential
for them to have a positive educational experience. I need to be
able to communicate with them to keep them connected to our
co-curricular activities.”

Glasgow said that no matter what the judge rules in February, she
will follow the laws and procedures.

“Student safety is a primary concern,” Glasgow said. “I feel that
this bill was well-intended, however, detrimental to what is best
for our students. Is it best for our students to be unable to text
their teacher on a trip to a conference, field trip, etc.?

“The majority of teachers are positive role models for their
students. The ban is not going to stop someone who is already
willing to prey on a student. They already break the rules
(law).”

BHS Principal Dr. David Geurin agrees with Glasgow when it comes to
the positive role of teachers in a student’s life.

“The saddest part of this legislation for me was the portrayal of
teachers as unworthy of trust,” he said. “In any profession, there
are individuals who are immoral. We need to do everything we can to
root out these bad apples; however, to restrict the free speech of
all teachers as a result of bad behavior on the part of a few seems
inappropriate and unreasonable.”

Geurin said he was pleased with the injunction because the
legislation is “vague and difficult to understand” and “seem(s) to
interfere with one’s right to be a parent.” Geurin adds that
students benefit from “responsible” adults using social networking
sites.

“For some students, the only responsible adults who may be in their
online network are their teachers,” he said. “Educators are
well-suited for teaching students digital citizenship.
Additionally, responsible adults provide added accountability when
included in social networks alongside students. When teachers are
included, another responsible adult is looking out for the best
interest of the student.”

Geurin said research has shown that effective student/teacher
relationships have a high impact on improving student achievement.
He says that social media is one way teachers can develop
appropriate relationships with students.

“I believe school districts should have reasonable policies that
will protect the welfare of students while allowing for learning
using all forms of communication, including the digital variety,”
Geurin said. “This legislation was not reasonable. If we are going
to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, we need to be
educating students in ways that are relevant to the future.”

For more information, visit www.mostateteachers.typepad.com.

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