Missouri governor allows teacher-student Internet chats

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2011 7:03 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Friday signed a bill restoring the right of teachers to have chats with students over the Internet.

Missouri lawmakers in May banned private teacher-student communications through e-mail or social media sites such as Facebook, citing cases around the United States where such contacts led to sexual or other inappropriate relationships.

Teachers' organizations opposed the law, saying that the vast majority of contacts with students are on educational matters and private communication is sometimes important. The law would have permitted contact only on sites visible to people such as administrators and parents.

Nixon asked lawmakers to revisit the law in September to remove the Internet contact ban. But the law as revised goes further, ordering districts to set electronic media policies to prevent improper teacher-student communications by March 1.

Nixon said districts may have trouble developing policies that eliminate improper teacher-student communication while also allowing what is proper.

"This bill is not as good as it should be, but to veto it would return us to a bill that would be far worse," Nixon said in a statement Friday.

On its website, the Missouri State Teachers Association pledged to see that the revised law is effective.

(Editing by David Bailey and Greg McCune)