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Judge Blocks Ban on Student-Teacher Online Chats and Facebook Friendships; Mo. Gov Calls for Repeal

Posted Aug 29, 2011 1:52 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Calling a Missouri law that bans students and teachers from communicating online "staggering" in its overbreadth, a state court judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction preventing it from taking effect until a hearing on a permanent injunction is held early next year.

However, after Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem issued the ruling, Gov. Jay Nixon said the state legislature should repeal the law. While he said some safeguards are needed, he also said social media is an important teaching tool, according to the Associated Press and Reuters.

The measure restricts communications on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and a number of teachers complained that it interferes with routine classroom-related activities. Beetem issued the TRO because of the law's interference with constitutional free speech rights.

The Missouri State Teachers Organization sued over the ban, winning the injunction, Reuters noted.

"This gives everyone time to debate and discuss the issue to come to a proper resolution rather than rushing to piece together language that doesn't resolve the concerns of educators or allow time for teacher input," said the group's attorney, Gail McCray.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Missouri Outlaws Teacher-Student Facebook Friendships"

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