According to Missouri Senate Bill 54, just signed by state Governor Jay Nixon, any social networking is prohibited between teachers and students. This includes not only Facebook, but any social network "that is exclusive and allows for private communication," according to Springfield, Mo., ABC affiliate KSPR.
How did this measure come about? Mashable notes that "inappropriate contact between students and teachers is at the root of the legislation," which is "designed to protect children from sexual misconduct by teachers, compelling school districts to adopt written policies between teachers and students on electronic media, social networking and other forms of communication."
Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian. Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.
And from the statutory language itself:
162.069. 1. Every school district shall, by January 1, 2012, 2 promulgate a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communication. Such policy shall contain at least the following elements:
4. No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as prohibiting a teacher from establishing a nonwork related internet site, provided the site is used in accordance with this section.
(1) "Exclusive access", the information on the website is available only to the owner (teacher) and user (student) by mutual explicit consent and where third parties have no access to the information on the website absent an explicit consent agreement with the owner (teacher);
(3) "Nonwork-related internet site", any internet website or web page used by a teacher primarily for personal purposes and not for educational purposes;
So how has this been received? The law certainly seems to give the peculiar message that teachers are not to be trusted. Mashable reacts that "on the surface this sounds like a good idea," although they question how it would be policed: "Inappropriate relationships will be hard to detect, especially since teachers and students engaged in such relationships would probably be concealing their communications, electronic or otherwise." Well if we learned anything from Weiner, it's to never underestimate how sloppy adults are when concealing inappropriate behavior online. So perhaps even these rudimentary precautions may be preventative?