Judge Halts Law Banning Teachers From Facebook

     JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Calling it a staggering prohibition of free speech, a judge issued a preliminary injunction against part of a student safety law addressing online communications between teachers and students.
     A teacher sued the state, claiming the law would prohibit her from communicating online with her own children.
     Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem’s ruling put the affected part of the bill on hold until at least February. Beetem issued the ruling Friday, two days before the law was to take affect.
     Gov. Jay Nixon said he would try to overhaul that part of the law, with input from parents and teachers.
     “In a digital world, we must recognize that social media can be an important tool for teaching and learning,” Nixon said in a statement.
     The Legislature unanimously passed the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act this year. It is believed to be the first law in the nation that holds school districts legally accountable if they withhold information about educators’ sexual misconduct when asked for a reference by another school district.
     The law contained a provision banning teachers from using social networking websites such as Facebook to communicate with minor students.
     Nixon said he hoped the Legislature can fix the law during a special legislative session beginning on Sept. 6.

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