Discussions and debates are on regarding a new Missouri law that would forbid teachers to add students in their buddy list!
The law could challenge the free speech rights of educators.
So far, there is no proper policy guideline on the Act. According to some districts, it will be illegal for teachers to add students to their friends' list, whereas some say that it is alright for teachers to add students as long as the teacher's profile allows public access.
The intention behind the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, which takes effect Aug. 28, certainly has a point. Most critics approve of the step, but it won't be wrong to say that the lawmakers pushed it a little too far to prevent sexual abuse of students, reported stltoday.com.
"We may have as many different interpretations of the law as we have school districts," said Anthony Rothert, an ACLU attorney. "When it comes to the First Amendment, there needs to be clarity."
The law is named after Amy Heister, who was sexually abused, at age 12, by a teacher. The districts need to develop policies by Jan 1. But many are trying to get it done before the school year begins.
Teachers are not too happy with the law, calling it a blow to their educational toolbox. While the law is definitely a move for the safety of the students, the fact cannot be denied that teenagers do not tell everything to their parents. There are times when a teacher can play the part of a mentor to the students, and students too are comfortable with that.
"To cut that off at the knees is not, educationally, a sound practice," said Matthew Schott, publications adviser at Francis Howell Central High School and co-president of the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association, according to the report.
Though the law looks like a good effort to draw the safety line, the effect of laying a binding law like this will only be known in time.