So-called 'Facebook Law' regulates teachers on social media

8:00 AM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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By Steve Patterson

St. Louis (KSDK) -- Starting this year, Missouri school districts are required to create policies regulating digital relationships between students and teachers.

Originally, the proposal which gained steam last year, was enacted as Senate Bill 54, or the "Amy Hestir Protection Act." The language would have outright prevented teachers from using social media to interact with students, unless parents and administrators also had access.

It was later called too harsh and portions were repealed in Senate Bill 1, which is now law. The so-called "Facebook Law" says that as of March of this year, every school district must have a policy in place to regulate interactions between school employees and students.

For example, administrators at Linbergh schools have incorporated pages of new guidelines into their "Staff/Student Relations" policy.

It encourages social media with teachers but there is a lot of training and rules to make sure no lines are crossed. Instead of using private accounts, teachers create open Facebook 'fan pages' to communicate homework assignments and class activities.

Private messaging is allowed, but the rules are clear: there must be a school designated public device, parents and the principal must be aware and it has to be used during "appropriate times."

"Their communication needs to be public, it needs to be a two way conversation that's viewable by everybody. Their principal and the parents should be aware that there's social media communication going on," said Communications Director Beth Johnston. "Our teachers also know that if anytime, if the information and communication is being requested, than we provide that. We encourage out teachers and we require them to be open and transparent with all of their communication."


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