New law bans student-teacher Facebook friendships
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — In one of our states, students can be friends with their teachers. They just can't "friend" them anymore.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently signed into law Senate Bill 54, also known as the "Amy Hestir Student Protection Act".
Hestir is a Missouri student who was molested by her junior high teacher.
The law covers a number of issues involving child sex abuse and schools.
It prohibits all teachers from maintaining any connection to a student on a private social networking site.
Superintendent Dr. Jim Welker talks to new teachers about the new law, saying it's a good reminder of a policy they already have in place.
"I think you'll find most school districts are ahead of the game on this," Welker said.
Their policy says any and all staff members are not allowed to give private access to their students on a network that is not accessible to the public. Basically, it bans students and teachers from being Facebook friends.
"It doesn't mean that were not going to be able to communicate with our students," Welker said. "It just means that we need to do that through an open system that is monitored."
That is the way teacher Barb Randolph operates her class. She created a website where her students can find links to homework help, supplemental study guides and other links to school approved sites.
Having been a teacher for 21 years, she's adapted her ways as the technology changes.
"It's something we use all the time in the classroom," she said. "It used to be just something that was kind of an extra. Now it's something we use all the time."
She has a facebook account but refuses to friend her students.
"I think it's better to maintain a professional distance," Randolph said. "I feel like that is just the professional thing to do, so I do not accept their friendship request on Facebook."
That's not to say she doesn't want to be friends with her students. She just doesn't need Facebook for that.
"We just need to make sure we have safe guards in place to protect our students and staff," Superintenent Welker said.