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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Limiting communication between staff and students

Some teachers add their students as friends on Facebook because of the convenience of contacting current and previous students. However, there was recently a new law enacted in Missouri concerning this practice.

This law has appropriately been nicknamed the “Facebook Law,” although the official name of the law is the “Amy Hestir Student Predators Act.” This law restricts teachers from adding their students as friends on Facebook, amongst other social networking sites.

In response to this new prohibition, a teacher decided to sue the state because of an unfortunate loophole in the law, preventing her from adding her own children on social sites. Christina Thomas filed a nine-page complaint to the state saying that the law violates her 1st and 14th amendment rights.

Thomas said, “There are better ways to prevent teacher misconduct than infringing on free speech by blocking contact on social media sites.”

This law was put into action because the Ladue School District said that current students or graduates are not allowed to have “exclusive communications” like a one-on-one study group, that are not from a work-related site. Many sexual relations between teachers and students can start with a simple message, such as “how do I do this math problem,” said Missouri state Sen. Jane Cunningham.

There are controversies on whether this law is agreeable. Charol Shakeshaft, a professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University said that the Facebook law is a good way to tackle sexual abuse by teachers in public school, since sexual relationships can start online.

The judges that were part of the trial of the teacher said that it would be an “unseemly and dangerous precedent to allow the state, in the guise of school authorities, to reach into a child’s home and control his/her actions there to the same extent that it can control that child when he/she participates in school-sponsored activities.”

Of course this law has been designed to maintain the safety of students, but Facebook is a great way for teachers to let students know that an assignment is due or something is changed in the assignment. The only way a student could possibly add teachers, is if their parents have full access to their profiles and no teenager wants their parents to be spying on them. Most likely they will be talking to friends, not a teacher on the Internet.

The full bill states: “No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a work-related internet site unless such site is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a non-work-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”

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In one day, a judge had the bill terminated from taking effect because the law would be “chilling” on free speech.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon cancelled the termination. Schools there are forced to make written policies for this law.

There are some teachers at MTHS who won’t add students nonetheless.

 

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