Today, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into a law a bill that effectively repeals one passed earlier this year that barred teachers from having contact with any student on Facebook or any social media site that enabled private messaging.
We reported on SB54, when it was passed. We reported that the law had been opposed by some teachers and the ACLU of Easter Missouri, which said it placed an “unconstitutional restriction on freedoms of speech and association.”
The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports on the repeal:
The legislation directs school districts to develop a social media policy by March 1, 2012. Those policies must include “the use of electronic media and other mechanisms to prevent improper communications between staff members and students.”
In calling the legislature back into special session, Nixon said lawmakers could only repeal the electronic communications provision, not revise it. The state constitution gives the governor the authority to determine which subjects lawmakers can consider during a special session.
Noting that lawmakers had gone further than he had directed, Nixon said the new legislation contains several provisions that he considers troubling. But he signed the bill because “to veto it would return us to a bill that would be far worse.”
The AP reports that the ACLU of Eastern Missouri still objects to the new law. John Chasnoff, its program director, said it just “passes the buck” and that “there will still be districts out there that say you can’t use Facebook no matter what, or you can’t use this type of social media regardless of whether you’re using it in the classroom or outside the classroom.”