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Injunction Blocks "Don't Be Friends" Law For Missouri Teachers

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  • I'd like to see the "What the hell is wrong with you?" comments made by the circuit judges...

    • by SrLnclt (870345) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:07PM (#37223922)
      I believe this is what you are looking for... (warning: PDF) http://www.msta.org/files/resources/publications/injunction.pdf [msta.org]
    • by kenh (9056)

      The law specifically prohibited PRIVATE communication between teachers and their students that could not be monitored/tracked by the school district and the student's parents. School-issued email, and other non-private methods are fine.

      Why, exactly, does a teacher NEED the ability to hold private conversations outside the watchful eye of the child's parent?

      Teachers have access to the students in real life 200 days a year, why do they need to be able to, for example, text their students?

      That kids like/prefer

      • by gonzo67 (612392)

        Why doesn't an ADULT former student not have the right to communicate with a former teacher away from the prying eyes of ANYONE?

        And...what if the parents are abusing the child? Do they still have the right to see everything the child does?

      • by jthill (303417)

        Trust can be abused, so let's outlaw trust, is that the logic?

        Why restrict this to teachers?

        • by HTH NE1 (675604)

          "He who trusts can never be betrayed, only mistaken." Cally once said that was a saying amongst her people.

          Cally was murdered. So were most of her people.

          (Kerr Avon)

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:01PM (#37223888)

    They took an oath "I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States ...". Voting for a law that clearly violates the Constitution means they violated their oath of office.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by hedwards (940851)

      It doesn't clearly violate the constitution. People choose to teach and when they do, they have to follow the resulting requirements. In some cases that means being subjected to prosecution for what would otherwise be legal behavior. One example is that in some states the statute of limitations is higher for teacher student relationships than it would otherwise be.

      Personally, I think it's somewhat silly as FB interactions at least are subject to subpoena a better law would be to mandate data retention on th

      • by macs4all (973270)

        doesn't clearly violate the constitution.

        Why yes, yes it does.

        The State has to show a very strong public policy reason for violating the Constitution like that. "Shouting 'Fire!' in a theatre" kind of "strong".

        I'm pretty sure they won't be able to do this.

        • The State has to show a very strong public policy reason for violating the Constitution like that. "Shouting 'Fire!' in a theatre" kind of "strong".

          Here I thought they had to amend the constitution and follow the proper procedures rather than just disobey the constitution because a bunch of people think they should.

      • It doesn't clearly violate the constitution. People choose to teach and when they do, they have to follow the resulting requirements. In some cases that means being subjected to prosecution for what would otherwise be legal behavior.

        As the judge noted, it would explicitly prohibit parent teachers from facebooking with their own child if that child were their student.

        There really isnt any way that it doesnt violate the first amendment, except that technically it isnt "Congress" enacting the law (thank goodness for incorporation!).

      • by psiclops (1011105)

        except if this law passed it would come into effect after many people decided to be a teacher.

        and also what if there were a law that stripped the constitutional rights of anyone who attended protests against the government. i mean they choose to attend the protest right?

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        People choose to teach and when they do, they have to follow the resulting requirements. In some cases that means being subjected to prosecution for what would otherwise be legal behavior.

        I think you're confusing choosing a career in education with enlisting in the military.

    • They're state legislators from Missouri. Finding out what is and is not in the constitution would require reading it, which would limit their ability to call things they don't like "unconstitutional" and would limit their ability to propose quick fixes and powergrabs.

      I often think that people who advocate states rights aren't paying any attention to the actual state governments they want to give more power to...
      • I often think that people who advocate states rights aren't paying any attention to the actual state governments they want to give more power to...

        It also violates the Missouri Constitution it seems and giving the states more power doesn't mean they could go against the U.S. Constitution. Homogenizing the states by making the Federal government more powerful hasn't really made anyone happy on the left, right or middle. Throughout history the choice of states has helped America through tough times. Populations moved around as an economic collapse in one area would lead people to other areas. Let some states be more liberal and let some be more cons

      • They're state legislators from Missouri. Finding out what is and is not in the constitution would require reading it, which would limit their ability to call things they don't like "unconstitutional" and would limit their ability to propose quick fixes and powergrabs.

        Note that this statement would apply equally well to our Federal legislators in DC. Or legislators in any other State, for that matter.

      • by macshit (157376)

        They're state legislators from Missouri. Finding out what is and is not in the constitution would require reading it, which would limit their ability to call things they don't like "unconstitutional" and would limit their ability to propose quick fixes and powergrabs.

        Also it would require them to be able to read...

    • by chispito (1870390) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:42PM (#37224146)

      They took an oath "I do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support the Constitution of the United States ...". Voting for a law that clearly violates the Constitution means they violated their oath of office.

      And this is different than all the other countless times a law has been struck down... how?

    • by sjames (1099) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:58PM (#37224260) Homepage

      The out for that is that you'd have to show that they were quite certain the law violated the constitution before signing it. They can always play the "I'm a moron" card, who wouldn't believe that?

    • They probably have Constitutional immunity. The proper recourse against the legislators is to recall those legislators or, if the law in that jurisdiction doesn't permit recall elections, vote them out at the next opportunity. The proper recourse against the law itself is to sue an appropriate party (often a part of the Executive Branch) to have it ruled unconstitutional, assuming you have standing.

      • by russotto (537200) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:33PM (#37225002) Journal

        They probably have Constitutional immunity. The proper recourse against the legislators is to recall those legislators or, if the law in that jurisdiction doesn't permit recall elections, vote them out at the next opportunity. The proper recourse against the law itself is to sue an appropriate party (often a part of the Executive Branch) to have it ruled unconstitutional, assuming you have standing.

        The problem with these so-called recourses is they don't provide sufficient deterrent to legislators. They can pass unconstitutional law after unconstitutional law; those which are unchallenged or survive the courts stand, those which do not end up being passed again with slightly different wording until they do survive the courts. As long as there's no actual punishment for legislators (and I don't mean something as blunt and as uncertain as an election), they'll keep doing it.

    • by iamhassi (659463)
      Again, like others have said many times, this law only applied to children under 18 so it doesn't violate any amendments since you do not have the right to speak to other people's children.

      the world existed before Facebook and texting and somehow we went through school just fine. The law is just trying to protect students from creepy teachers AND protect teachers from false accusations or accidentally getting in trouble ("Susie, why is your teacher mr Rodgers messaging you on Facebook?"). This law soun
      • by Hatta (162192) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @08:49AM (#37226860) Journal

        Again, like others have said many times, this law only applied to children under 18 so it doesn't violate any amendments since you do not have the right to speak to other people's children.

        Where in the First Amendment is there an exception based on age?

        • by iamhassi (659463)

          Where in the First Amendment is there an exception based on age?

          says pedobear

          man walks up to your 6 yr old daughter at the park and starts talking to her.
          You notice and walk over and say "Excuse me can I help you?"
          "No", says the man, "I'm just talking to this girl."
          "Ok," you say, "but she is my daughter and if you need to speak with her you should ask me first."
          "No," says the man, "it's my first amendment right to talk to anyone I want."

          o_O

          • by russotto (537200)

            says pedobear

            Pedobear, despite his utility, is not yet an established concept in First Amendment jurisprudence.

              • by russotto (537200)

                If you think talking to a child is "child pornography", I suggest you look to other definitions of "intercourse". And further I suggest you turn off "safe search", use an unfiltered Internet connection, and educate yourself on what regular pornography is, so you don't make that mistake again.

                • by iamhassi (659463)

                  If you think talking to a child is "child pornography", I suggest you look to other definitions of "intercourse". And further I suggest you turn off "safe search", use an unfiltered Internet connection, and educate yourself on what regular pornography is, so you don't make that mistake again.

                  Tell it to this guy, who was arrested for talking to children. [youtube.com] Yes, just talking, not soliciting sex. He was charge with annoying children under 18 years of age.

                  This man served 60 days "for shooting a video in front of a first grade class and later editing in sexually explicit lyrics as a joke and then posting that video on YouTube." [fox17online.com] He's lucky, he was facing 20 years. [slashdot.org]

                  You have no first amendment rights when it comes to talking to children. Sorry.

                  • You have no first amendment rights when it comes to talking to children. Sorry.

                    Having a right, and having your government fail to acknowledge that right, are two entirely different matters, ones that I wish people around here would get straight in their heads. The Supreme Law of our Land reserves most rights to the people, and places substantial restrictions upon government. That is because the Constitution was primarily intended to rein in the behavior of our leadership, not that of We the People. If you understood that document in the context of the times in which it was written, th

                    • by iamhassi (659463)

                      You have no first amendment rights when it comes to talking to children. Sorry.

                      Having a right, and having your government fail to acknowledge that right, are two entirely different matters, ones that I wish people around here would get straight in their heads.

                      Not really. If I do something and I go to jail for doing it it doesn't matter if I had the right to do it or not, point is I'm still in prison.

    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      They really need to bring back the concept of infamy in law (basically, your word becomes worth shit and, in some places, you have less rights than a corpse).

  • Offenders can still send private text messages or other forms of communication.

    Being a "friend" is not inherently a bad thing.

    Classic case of good intentions gone too far.

    • Being a "friend" is not inherently a bad thing.

      Maybe not but as a high school student I saw plenty of examples of questionable relationships between students and teachers.

      • U jelly?
      • by PRMan (959735)

        I also knew a teacher and a student that were friends during school, but started dating when she was 20 (he was about 28). I questioned her about it and she said she never thought about him that way while she was in school, just as a friend/teacher. Only in college did she realize how much she missed him and they eventually got married.

        As far as anyone could tell, it was all innocent and proper and her parents liked him and were good with it. It's rare, but it happens.

        • by jdpars (1480913)
          It sounds like the teacher there wasn't using his authority to encourage or coerce the student into a relationship. That's the real risk as far as teacher-student relationships; a student may feel like it is entirely voluntary but the teacher's authoritative position has formed the entire thing. And that should be the target of any law. Instead, teachers are treated like criminals. We are held to a very high standard of behavior, but treated like dog shit in return.
      • A lot of those are already illegal; explicit violations of the first amendment through new legislation dont really fix any problems, they just create a zillion new ones.

        Tell me, if its already illegal for a teacher to abuse their position of power to have an inappropriate relationship with their students, and if such laws dont always work, what makes THIS law so effective that it will put a stop to such relationships?

        • Tell me, if its already illegal for a teacher to abuse their position of power to have an inappropriate relationship with their students, and if such laws dont always work, what makes THIS law so effective that it will put a stop to such relationships?

          Back in the day, this is what we would call The $64,000 Question.

        • A lot of those are already illegal; explicit violations of the first amendment through new legislation dont really fix any problems, they just create a zillion new ones.

          Tell me, if its already illegal for a teacher to abuse their position of power to have an inappropriate relationship with their students, and if such laws dont always work, what makes THIS law so effective that it will put a stop to such relationships?

          It won't, it can't, and it was never intended to work. What it does do (as others in this thread have pointed out) is gain votes for certain politicians, so in that context it will work whether it is ultimately signed into law or not. Even when such a law is struck down, the lawmakers involved can point to it and say with pride, "I'm here for you, people! I tried to Protect your Children but the courts stabbed me in the back. Just remember that next time you in the polling booth."

          What disturbs me about t

    • by MacTO (1161105)

      I largely attribute this 'teachers are not friends of students' bit to big city attitudes. Teachers are unlikely to have an existing relationship with a child or their family in large urban areas.

      I would also question the judgement of a teacher who oversteps professional boundaries and becomes friends with a student who they teach. This is because teachers are in a 'position of trust.' That basically means that a teacher is given access to and authority over a child, usually for an intended purpose (in t

      • by sjames (1099)

        The facebook "friend" covers a large gamut of relationships. It can be entirely impersonal such as liking a band or a product or it can be more personal than real-world friends such as married people. I would hope the student-teacher friend status would be along the lines of mentor (which is certainly not at all an abuse!). If it isn't, then electronic communication isn't the problem and blocking electronic communication certainly won't fix it.

      • This is because teachers are in a 'position of trust.'

        Then how about trusting teachers not to abuse your kid :)

        At the end of the day, you can legislate everything a teacher must/can say, but is that good?
        It surely prevents teachers from doing anything out of the ordinary, and in that case why not just replace him with a video tape...
        Bottom line: Trust that your teachers are competent and manage a healthy relationship with their students.

        If I remember correctly, teachers in my public school told us that we could always come to them if we had personal prob

      • by malsbert (456063) on Friday August 26, 2011 @08:33PM (#37224464)

        Thank you, I needed a good laugh.

        The wast majority, Of child abuse cases, Involves one or both of the childs parents. If you add the rest of the immediate family, Almost all cases of child abuse, Is accounted for.

        If you are afraid that a teacher will abuse you children, Then stop sending your children to Sunday "school".

      • Sometimes that abuse will have extraordinarily negative consequences, such as a teacher using their position to gain access to children then physically, emotionally, or sexually abusing them.

        Sure, and for every case of abuse that occurs, should millions of otherwise perfectly normal, healthy, nurturing relationships be artificially severed? That attitude is morally questionable, akin to the "no matter the cost, if it saves but one life, it's worth it" attitude that is so prevalent among our psychotically risk-averse society.

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:11PM (#37223956)

    The jurisdiction that I'm licensed in didn't make electronic communications with students illegal, but the teacher licensing body did create a set of guidelines. Even though I don't entirely agree with those guidelines, they don't: force the disclosure of a teacher's electronic communications; dictate what types of services a teacher can or cannot use; or create absurd situations, such as the children of a teacher scenario. The worse that can happen for violating those standards is the loss of your teaching license, so you can still have a life outside of teaching if something does go wrong. (Assuming that you didn't go anything criminal.)

    I would also like to see some education on the parental front. I would much rather a parent monitoring my communications with a child than my employer. After all, it is the parent who is ultimately responsible for the upbringing of the child and it is the parent who should be deciding the boundaries that other adults have with their children.

    • I would also like to see some education on the parental front. I would much rather a parent monitoring my communications with a child than my employer. After all, it is the parent who is ultimately responsible for the upbringing of the child and it is the parent who should be deciding the boundaries that other adults have with their children.

      While I agree with this, it is easier said than done. When I was a kid, I always a quarter in my pocket which I could use to call home or my parent's work. Today, there are simply no pay phones anywhere where my kids spend time (a big city in the USA). My kids don't have mobile phones yet (because they can't reliably use them yet), but when they do, they will have them on their person all day. How do you monitor phone calls/sms/web browsing in this scenario? Not a glib question -- I try to do a lot to

      • by jonwil (467024)

        If you cant trust them to not abuse a mobile phone but you do want them to carry one, get one of the "kid friendly" mobile phones that can be locked down so they can only make/receive calls/SMS from "approved" numbers.

        Or go with a carrier that lets you apply similar restrictions on incoming/outgoing calls at the network level.

        • If you cant trust them to not abuse a mobile phone...

          It's not about trust, it's about allowing for the inevitable naive mistake without all of the dire or embarrassing consequences. It's about balancing communication capabilities against being confronted with new and challenging concepts. My kids know my phone number, they should be able to call me if they need help. I trust them to do that, and to not send inappropriate messages to others. But what if they get a creepy text from a peer? Or what if they send a poorly-phrased text to a peer who then misin

      • I would also like to see some education on the parental front. I would much rather a parent monitoring my communications with a child than my employer. After all, it is the parent who is ultimately responsible for the upbringing of the child and it is the parent who should be deciding the boundaries that other adults have with their children.

        While I agree with this, it is easier said than done. When I was a kid, I always a quarter in my pocket which I could use to call home or my parent's work. Today, there are simply no pay phones anywhere where my kids spend time (a big city in the USA). My kids don't have mobile phones yet (because they can't reliably use them yet), but when they do, they will have them on their person all day. How do you monitor phone calls/sms/web browsing in this scenario? Not a glib question -- I try to do a lot to monitor my children's online/tv/etc time. There are no private TVs or computers in the house; we talk about what it means to enter an email address into a Club Penguin form; etc. But at some point, they are going to have to go out into the world on their own, and they are going to have to have a way to phone home when they are in trouble. Am I supposed to do a data dump on their phones at the end of each day and interrogate them about mysterious SMSs that I find? I'm not really interested in that for many reasons...

        One word: Latitude.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Friday August 26, 2011 @07:53PM (#37224228) Homepage

    The slashdot summary is totally inaccurate. The law wouldn't "ban all electronic communication between teachers and students." This post [slashdot.org] explains what it would actually do. Basically they wanted to make sure parents have access to all electronic communication between teachers and students.

    • by Eristone (146133) *

      You are right - the summary should say "the law bans educators from using any tool not provided by the State for communications" as anything that doesn't allow parents to have access to all electronic communications between teachers and students is forbidden by the new statue. And being there are no exceptions, it makes it kind of hard to use any social networking site, now doesn't it?

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        You are right - the summary should say "the law bans educators from using any tool not provided by the State for communications" as anything that doesn't allow parents to have access to all electronic communications between teachers and students is forbidden by the new statue. And being there are no exceptions, it makes it kind of hard to use any social networking site, now doesn't it?

        Your idea for a summary is just as inaccurate. Go read the actual law http://www.senate.mo.gov/11info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=4066479 [mo.gov]. Here, I'll help you since you're obviously too lazy to check your facts before posting up your uninformed opinion.

        SECTION 162.069 - By January 1, 2012, every school district must develop a written policy concerning teacher-student communication and employee-student communications. Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communicati

    • I guess either the judge should have read that slashdotter's post, or you should have read the judge's ruling. One of you is wrong.

    • by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday August 26, 2011 @10:02PM (#37224902)

      Umm, no. "No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a non-work-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student." That's not out of context, either (although former only extends up to 18 year-olds.) Almost every internet site allows exclusive access, even if you somehow set it up so that content is supposed to be shared with parents (who, BTW, if a teacher are also forbidden from using such sites to contact their own children, and this according to the judge's ruling), it would still allow exclusive access. Hell, one could argue that simply using email allows such access (any email, period). Hyperbole? Not according to the judge. He says "the breadth of the prohibition is staggering", and would have "an immediate and irreparable harm."

      He also refers to it as a "complete ban on certain kinds of communication." So, unless you are one hell of a lawyer, you are wrong. Plain and simply wrong. Note that the lawmakers may have intended to do what you say, but that's not what the law does.

  • Does it actually state that anywhere? Because that has to be the most ridiculous part of the law.

    • by six11 (579)

      Does it actually state that anywhere? Because that has to be the most ridiculous part of the law.

      Reading the injunction (here [msta.org]) it seems the original law does indeed prohibit parent/child association, and the court agrees with you that it is ridiculous. On page 2:

      [the law states] "No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a non-work-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or or former student."

      ...

      ... Even if a complete ban on certain forms of communication between certain individuals could be construed as content neutral and only a reasonable restriction on "time, place and manner," the breadth of the prohibition is staggering. The Court finds at based upon the evidence adduced at the preliminary injunction hearing, social networking is extensively used by educators. It is often primary, if not sole manner, of communications between the Plaintiffs and their students. Examination of the statute indicates that it would prohibit all teachers from using any non-work-related social networking sites which allow exclusive access with current and former students. It clearly prohibits communication between family members and their teacher parents using these types of sites. The Court finds that the statute would have a chilling effect on speech.

      So yeah, redonkulous.

    • by Rary (566291)

      Does it actually state that anywhere? Because that has to be the most ridiculous part of the law.

      No it doesn't. It merely fails to make any kind of exemption for that situation.

      Honestly, having read the bill, I found it to be mostly reasonable, but needs a few tweaks here and there. Most of the people who are all up in arms about it are basing their opinion of it on what bloggers have said about it, which is mostly inaccurate.

      • Honestly, having read the bill, I found it to be mostly reasonable,

        Except that the first amendment is incorporated (applies to state legislatures), and explicitly forbids legislation that restricts free speech in this way.

  • There are certainly tragic situations, where teachers have behaved unethically or immorally towards their students. In most of these cases, the students are the victims, and (as a parent) I can't truly understand the pain that those victims feel. But this is a situation for school-wide, or district-wide policies, not legislation. Making electronic contacts illegal will paint with too broad a brush, and not adequately control or deter those people who are trying to victimize another. Even teachers' union
  • We are living in quite a different time than 15-20 years ago. When I when to high school there was little talk of teacher-student affairs but in a large school (5000+) students, I am sure it happened. You take a 20-something teacher and a 16-year-old student and put them in close contact and things can happen even back then.

    Today, every message given to young people is pushing them to be more sexual in bolder ways. You also have a social climate that is quite a bit more fearsome to young people than it w

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