Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
friending, missouri, teachers

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New Missouri Law May Make It Illegal To Friend Your Former Teachers On Facebook

from the for-the-children! dept

Gabriel Tane points us to another odd state law coming out of Missouri, where it appears that schoolteachers could run afoul of the law if they friend any former student on Facebook. Part of the problem here is that the law in question is worded incredibly vaguely. But the text does say:
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.
This is the part that would seem to cover friending any current or former student on Facebook. While plenty of teachers I know refuse to friend students on Facebook just out of principle (and general caution), to make it illegal seems extreme. That's doubly true when it includes "former" students. At some point, former students grow up and become fully functioning adults (one hopes). At that point, does it still make sense to make it illegal for the student and teacher to have contact? Update: As pointed out in the comments, the law does define "former student" to mean someone under the age of 18, meaning that former students over the age of 18 can be friended safely...

The bill is clearly targeted at stopping sexual relationships between teachers and students, which is a perfectly admirable goal. But, like so many laws, it appears this one was written very poorly, and creates massive unintended consequences.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2011 @ 10:02am

    If you read the law, it actually doesn't make it illegal to friend a current or former student on Facebook. It simply requires that each district have a written policy prohibiting it.

    So instead of going to jail, you'll just lose your job. At least that's SLIGHTLY more reasonable.

    On the other hand, when it says "allows exclusive access"... that doesn't even say you need to GRANT exclusive access, just that it "allows" it. Since Facebook does allow you to friend people, I think just having a Facebook page is in violation of this policy, poorly written as it is.

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