New Facebook Bill Gives School Districts Authority to Write Policies

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A House committee gives unanimous approval to the so-called Facebook Fix bill, which repeals much of a current law limiting student-teacher interaction online.

A new law that restricts teachers? communications with students online has been the center of controversy and a court case that calls the measure an infringement on the right to freedom of speech.

Representative Chris Kelly of Columbia presented the revised bill to the House Committee on Education. He tells his colleagues ?we screwed this up.?

The new bill establishes only that school districts must enact policy that governs teacher-student communications via electronic devices.

Kelly says each school district will decide what works best for their community, but says he expects many will rely on policies written by the Missouri School Boards Association.

The law, as it stands now, disallows teachers from using websites that give ?exclusive access? to students.

Kelly says he understands there are ?fan? pages and ?friend? pages on Facebook, ?exclusive messages? can be sent through the site, but says it was not the intention of the legislature to prohibit teachers from implementing positive communication from their students. At the heart of the bill was legislators desire to prevent students from being approached sexually via electronic communication devices, i.e. computers or cellular phones.

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