Christina Thomas, Missouri Teacher, Sues State Over Facebook Law Blocking Contact With Own Child
A Missouri teacher is suing the state over a law that limits teacher-student interactions online, arguing that the legislation prevents her from contacting her own child through mediums like Facebook.
The law aims to prevent teacher sexual misconduct and inappropriate communications with students. But Christina Thomas, a Ladue School District teacher, claims in her complaint that the district has issued a notice teachers stating that they cannot directly contact their own children on Facebook and other social networks "if they meet the statutory definition of student or former student." Thomas' children attend the same school that she teaches at.
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, signed into law July 14, has a clause that states:
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a work-related internet site unless such site is available to school administrators and the child's legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian.
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student.
The measure immediately drew mixed reactions among the state's teachers, students and parents.
Republican State Sen. Jane Cunningham, who sponsored the bill, told The Huffington Post early this month that the measure seeks to discourage exclusive communication between teachers and students that lacks parent or school official supervision.
Thomas' 9-page complaint, filed in conjunction with by the American Civil Liberties Union, claims the regulation violates the First and 14th Amendments.
Most recently, the Missouri State Teachers Association filed suit Friday against the state to block the social networking restrictions part of the law. Those arguing the measure say the law hinders their ability to communicate with students for academic purposes.
Read the full document below.