In August we reported on a new Missouri law that regulated communications between teachers and students on social media websites. We also reported on the Missouri State Teachers Association’s (“MSTA”) successful efforts to block this so-called “Facebook Law” by obtaining a preliminary injunction from a Missouri Court. Now, Missouri’s Legislature has voted to repeal the controversial portion of the law which barred teachers from communicating with students on social media platforms that allow “exclusive access.” The Legislature also extended the deadline for school districts to establish social media use guidelines from January 1 to March 1, 2012.
Missouri’s Governor signed the bill into law last Friday. As a result, the MSTA said it would decide in the coming weeks whether to dismiss its case. Currently, a court hearing is scheduled for February 20 to decide whether the original version of the law should be permanently enjoined.
Although the MTSA appears to be satisfied with the new bill, the ACLU expressed disappointment with the Governor’s failure to veto the bill. Specifically, the ACLU is concerned that school districts will not be able to create social media policies that also protect free speech rights. John Chasnoff, program director for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch “We think the legislature kicked the can down the road on this issue and just passed the buck to local school districts. It’s been so difficult for the legislature to hammer out a bill that meets the needs and is constitutional. Imagine how difficult it will be for school boards.”