A teacher from Missouri has sued the state over so called Facebook law, a new law that prevents contacts between teachers and their students over the Internet.
[googlead tip=”patrat_mare”] Christina Thomas, Missouri teacher argued that the new law will make it illegal for her to chat with her own child over Facebook.
The law, which has been nicknamed the Facebook law, prohibits teachers from having exclusive communications with students over non-work Internet sites.
According to the Facebook law, the term “student” is defined as every person under 18 who attend or used to attend the school where the teacher works.
Christina Thomas alleges in her suit that the Ladue, Missouri, school district where she works has told teachers that they cannot have “exclusive communications” with their own children on Facebook if their children meet the Facebook law’s definition of former or current student.
Christina Thomas claims the new Facebook law is violating her rights under the 1st and 14th amendments.
However, there are teachers that do not agree the Facebook law goes too far.
[googlead tip=”vertical_mic”] Charol Shakeshaft, a professor of educational leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Huffington Post that Facebook law is an useful tool to stop sexual abuse in schools. Shakeshaft found that about 10 % of public school students in 2000 reported that they experienced unwanted sexual harassment or abuse from an educator.
“Exclusive and private contact with your students isn’t educationally necessary,” she told the site.
“In the same way that in a school we would say, <<No, you may not lock yourself into a room with a student>> this law effectively says, <<No you may not lock yourself into a website where only you can get to the student>>.”
Christina Thomas is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, organization that argued that there are better ways to prevent teacher misconduct than infringing on free speech by blocking contact on social media sites.
Banning Facebook conversations or other restrictions on students’ ability to communicate with their teachers and the extent to which school officials can dictate students’ behavior online has been a controversial subject, even in the courts. [googlead tip=”lista_medie” aliniat=”stanga”]
In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that administrators could punish a student who raised a “Bong hits 4 Jesus” banner across the street from his school, saying the banner created a “substantial disruption” within the school.
The 7th Circuit sided with two high school students who were punished for posting racy photos of themselves online.
Last June, the 3rd Circuit ruled that two students should not have been suspended for creating MySpace profiles while at home that mocked school administrators.
“It would be an unseemly and dangerous precedent to allow the state, in the guise of school authorities, to reach into a child’s home and control his/her actions there to the same extent that it can control that child when he/she participates in school-sponsored activities,” the judges wrote.
However, the 2nd Circuit ruled in April that a school district was within its rights to prevent a student from running for class secretary after she wrote on her personal blog while at home that “jamfest is cancelled due to douchebags in central office.”
The 4th Circuit ruled in July that a West Virginia school district could suspend a student for creating a MySpace group that accused a fellow student of having herpes.