ST. LOUIS (CN) – A new state law, which requires school districts to report substantiated allegations of teachers’ sexual misconduct to districts that seek a reference, contains an unconstitutional provision that prevent teachers from communicating online with their own children, a teacher claims in a federal class action.
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act requires school districts to report substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct by former educators to another school district that seeks a reference for the educator.
History shows that school districts across the nation, afraid of scandal, have silently passed along sexually predatory teachers for years.
Missouri is believed to be the first state to draw a line against that. The law is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 28.
But named plaintiff Christina Thomas claims that a section of Missouri’s new law, which limits online contact between teachers and students on social networking websites, would prohibit her from communicating online with her own child.
Thomas is a teacher with Ladue School District, and her children attend school there.
“Ladue School District has notified its teachers that they cannot have exclusive communications with their own children on Facebook, if they meet the statutory definition of student or former student,” the complaint states.
“Specifically, plaintiff and other teachers at Ladue School District were notified in writing that because of the statute they will be prohibited from communicating exclusively through Facebook or other social-networking sites with their own children or members of their Sunday school classes, athletic teams, or scout troops ‘unless or until exceptions are enacted[,]’ if the children are students or former students as defined by the statute.
“Upon information and belief there are many students whose parents want them to have the ability to communicate with plaintiff and members of the plaintiff class in a manner prohibited by” the law.
The class, represented by Anthony Rothert of the American Civil Liberties Union, claims the law violates the First and 14th Amendments.
The complaint has a plaintiff class and two defendant classes. The plaintiff class consists of all Missouri teachers. The defendant classes consist of all Missouri school districts and their superintendents. Seven individual members of the Missouri State Board of Education are named as defendants as well.Ladue is an affluent suburb of St. Louis. It has the highest median income of any city in Missouri.